Peripheral Vision by poet Susan Kinsolving travels to many unexpected places: the ocean floor, a lunatic asylum, and to an ocularist for a glass eye.
Peripheral Vision goes behind the scenes in a military hospital, an elementary school, and a disturbed family. Susan Kinsolving’s poems were described in the New Yorker as “grand and almost terrifying.” In this new collection, she proves herself again. Exploring the world from many points of view, Kinsolving takes her readers to England, Hollywood, Wyoming, France, and Chile. In idiosyncratic homages, she invokes Neruda, Bishop, Clare, Frost, and Dickinson, along with Helen Keller and Odilon Redon. While referencing fact or history, she attacks with “a startling backhand of wit and irony,” as noted once in the New York Times Book Review. She writes poignantly to a daughter in Hollywood and acerbically to an ex-husband. Her family’s most disastrous Thanksgiving is described in a funny piece, “Fill the Cavity with Crumbs.” In “The Case of the Carrot,” she reports on an absurd legal action in family court. All Kinsolving’s poems demonstrate a keen love of language, its dimensions of meaning and musicality of sound. Each poem is a pleasure.
Susan Kinsolving’s poems gratify the senses, and if that were all they did, it would be much more than enough for even the most difficult-to-appease reader of poetry. They do something more, though: as the title of this beautiful volume suggests, they bring us in tantalizing proximity to the radiant mysteries that prowl just beyond the sphere of the senses. They are triumphs of perception and miracles of insight. —Vijay Seshadri
Susan Kinsolving practices an enchanted speech that awakens us to the bright glare of surviving time, of passionate seeing, especially the natural world, and as mother, wife, and daughter, of an art that honors our fragile yet sturdy relationships. These poems, more than an enhanced book of hours or remembrance of things past, are invocations soaked in the fluencies of sound and enriched by a palpable intellect that gifts readers so much charm, sublimity, and humor. —Major Jackson