I was first introduced to the poetry of Jan Epton Seale through her book, Nape. In my review of that book I wrote, "In her latest book of poetry Jan Epton Seale takes her reader on a spiritual journey, putting aside assumptions and questioning tradition while at the same time celebrating the idea of the sacred."
In this book, The Wonder Is, Seale does all of that, and more. This is a collection of her poetry spanning the years 1974-2012. So many years, so many life experiences, yet none of the poems feel dated or in any way invalid. Instead, they are fresh and warm, inviting us to question what we see, both inside and out, while keeping a sense of awe and quiet humor about it all.
While we strive to find (eyes watering
from stress or seeing our future fleshed)
a boy? A girl?—oblivious to voyeurism,
it bends to play with feet, check toes.
And then insistently declining our offer
to know its sex, it settles to taste a thumb,
and for this one last time a mystery,
to moon us.
In her introduction, Seale mentions that some people have said that she should be branded as a "regional writer." I wholeheartedly disagree, unless we are talking about the region known simply as "womanhood" or "humanity."
Soon I am a rat
getting into my own store
out of season
Soon I wrap myself
in death skins
I lie down before the great lip
I sing my own death
with a small mouth.
The poems in this collection cover such topics as border crossings, marriage, parenting, and menopause. They discuss the ins and outs of the everyday as well as milestones like the first tooth gone from a child's mouth and the death of a loved one. Seale talks about place, yes, with a wonder and deep-seeing that brings it all alive for us as we read, and helps us understand the connectedness between ourselves and where we live, or where we come from.
Read an excerpt from this book.
Jan Epton Seale, the 2012 Texas Poet Laureate, is a native Texan who currently resides in McAllen. She is the award winning author of seven volumes of poetry, two books of short fiction, three books of nonfiction, and nine children's books. Visit her website.
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