Marie Tozier’s new book, Open the Dark, is a lyrical guide to the life in Northwest Alaska experienced by the Iñupiaq poet and her family. It touches on themes that can be universally understood by the careful reader and on others that need the cultural context that Tozier’s poetry provides to be understood. Like most books of good poems, it is also a gallery of images for revisiting time after time.
Many of the pieces in the first section of Open the Dark are narrative poems that end with a turn. For example, the first lines of “Grandmother’s Bible” describes how the poet’s grandmother ran her hand down the front page of her Bible, over the Iñupiaq names, birthdates, and deaths of family members listed there. By watching her grandmother, the poet learned who she and others of her generation were named after, “…Eskimo names given/To remember/Dear friends, siblings lost too young, esteemed/Elders.” For the poet and her grandmother, “There is no why,/Only who.”
Read the full review here.