Tuesday, May 15, 2012



Wild Place by Erica Goss 
(Finishing Line Press, Georgetown, Kentucky, 2012)

Wild Place weaves a tale of an inward discovery and a grounding.  Erica Goss seeks refuge in the vanishing wild places still within our reach.  Moreover, she encourages us to nurture the wild places within ourselves.  Erica Goss’ fine attention to detail, full of texture and wonder, gives us many places where we find refuge.  As we navigate our way through these poems, we see our own reflections in the mirror created by her delightful collection of poems.

Several recurring themes help build the chapbook’s narrative arc of honoring place and living authentically with whatever life offers.  Common themes: ordinary-as-wild, travel, family (motherhood, parenthood, relationships, infidelity, divorce, disabled children), loss, colors, and wildlife, particularly insects.

I was impressed by the intentionality and authenticity of Goss’ voice.  This is a real person, a poet, and so much more than a poet.  She shares real world experiences, universal, ordinary in their uniqueness. I identified with her as a poet, as a parent, as a naturalist, and as an international citizen of Earth.  The choices she made, the details, brought me into my own present moment.

As readers, we have to ask how this collection contributes to the conversation of Poetry.  Goss stakes her claim but doesn’t dwell on it.  We can align the character in the Woman in the Berlin Airport as the critical eye of Poetry casting aspersions on the poet. 

Your eyes are as insistent
as the voices that spread

from hidden speakers, warning
against touching strange packages.

Goss doesn’t kow tow, she makes no apologies.  “I am on my way / somewhere else, just as you are,” she says to the woman in the airport.  

Goss has been given the gift of her family, her situation, and she finds solace and satisfaction in her own Wild Place.  This freedom to write and explore is part of the Poetry conversation.  Consider this excerpt from her poem, Strange Land:

red ants pierce the heart
of our flimsy suburb
slip into bags of sugar

paper wasps ping the house
build nests from wood
and their own fierce saliva

the insatiable wind
presses against the walls
America drifts under the doorsill

Mother scrubs the hot windows
scans the hazy air
always look up, she says

In this passage, we see the world as Goss sees it.  We see motherhood, we acknowledge the wild place in domesticity.  We consider Goss’ relationship with Poetry and how it influences and distracts: ants slipping, wasps pinging, air drifting into our homes.  We never lose hold of this beautiful life as we are advised to always look up. 

Goss’ sense of poetry is earned, and we as readers hear it in her voice.  We can feel it in our mouths as we speak the words.  From Leaving Frankfurt:

words that must be

chewed until only a pulp
remains.  Always
a little piece of gristle left

to work again
and again through the small moist chamber
of the mouth.

And, While You Can:

I’m the ash that coats your tongue,
makes you cough

and cough. No,
I can’t stay quiet tonight
On the street made of words.

In this collection of poems, we get a sense of the wild (and not-so-wild) ride life takes us on, we pay attention to the details which shape our worldviews, and we look back and forward with a smile as we fit our mantle over our shoulders and embark on a journey to the next Wild Place.


Eric Wayne Dickey has a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from Oregon State University. He is a John Anson Kitredge Fund for Individual Artists grant recipient and a Vermont Studio Center Fellow. He co-edits Pacifica: Poetry International, formerly To Topos. He lives in Corvallis, Oregon. His poetry has recently appeared in Teeny Tiny # 13Mixer, blazevox.org, and Rhino, among others. He enjoys writing book reviews, several of which can be read at Galatea Resurrects. He has entered a daily tweet of exactly 140 characters, Monday through Friday, since June 2009. You can follow him at twitter.com/MePoet.

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