This collection of compellingly constructed narratives make new connections, new sparks, new thought as often as line to line. The poems are patient but not slow, engaging in constantly evocative language, however quiet they may at first appear. The language, finally, is quite simply alive and the collective thinking in this book is the stuff of the body’s own connective tissue. The voyage through these poems encompasses much—grief, love, humanness—but the narrative, the speaker, the events keep moving, so that we ourselves are moved.
Melissa Cundieff’s deeply satisfying debut Darling Nova reminds us that living and loving requires us to be circadian with how we treat memory—it is every day that we must forget to remember, and we must remember to forget. These poems are alive with tenderness, temperance, and a tempestuous willingness to engage and render what is both vivid as well as invisible. “I wrote this today:” she writes, reminding us that it is both before and after the pause that the world begins.
In her new book Darling Nova, Melissa Cundieff plumbs the creative depths of the traumatized psyche to honor and lament, by equal measure, its summons to the past. Out of the cigarette smoke of human speech come the poet’s words: “Reminiscence is an augury / backwards, a slow bullet returning to us, now.” So vigorous the visionary hunger here, so hopeful and tragic the signature of testament and rebellion, it knows: the legacy of loss is neither forsaken nor immune from the forces of ruin and estrangement that are the pretext of renewal. Out of a wound we were born and so are born again. Such is the embodied wisdom here, the abiding vulnerability, courage, and compassion that figuration and reflection make possible, painful, luminous, sacramental; one part discovered, another forged. To go this deeply inward is to voice an aloneness that is ever searching and never alone. A truly dazzling book.