If We Are What We Remember
If We Are What We Remember: New and Selected Poems
By Linda Opyr
The poetry of Linda Opyr speaks with a clear voice and with compassion:
I wanted more than anything
to tell you that young girls
who sew themselves up in silence
and close doors
will open and speak again.
She is a wonderfully observant and resourceful poet. Her book radiates joy in writing and in life:
…something – just on the other side
of the wild blueberries – dived.
A bellyflop splash.
In one of the poems from this gathering of old and new work, the poet notes how “on each side of me,/ rooms flare against the coming darkness.” Possessed of a lyrical discretion that belies its own tough-minded grace, Linda Opyr’s work contains many such rooms, bright spots (stanzas) of light to alert and cheer the reader. What I like is her willingness to be surprised – and say so – at “the sudden fox,” “the sweet taste of wood!”, “the hymn nine apples sung,” how “the moon climbed her dark stairs.” Her poems are to be valued for what she calls “small sightings,” views precise and honest enough to take her, and us, often, to the heart of the matter. Like the city trees she pays attention to, her best poems remind, “of what is not concrete,/ of what is/ in spite of what is.”
Linda Opyr’s work – ripening beautifully with the years – remains spare in form and ample in feeling. Her poetry has been a grand refusal of loss, an insistent attempt to take what is gone and revive it as art. We are told that the poet’s mother, a central figure in Opyr’s work, “made things lost.” Her daughter has made poems that will last.
Publisher: Whittier Publications, Inc. (May 9, 2005)
Paperback: 196 pages