'Poetry is the fate of reading, a phase of transformation.' Donald Revell's short essays don't so much delve into the whys and hows of poem writing as they do explore the mind alive to poetry and the ways in which poet and reader become one. And as big as that sounds, Revell's work grasps at something yet larger: 'As energy, [poetry] outspeeds the mass and manners of art, passing through words along the way to life. It is itself alive, and bursts from poems in actual ecstasy.' Energy, ecstasy, wildness. These ideas dance through Revell's prose. Read aloud, one feels their driving force. Poetry is ecstasy, he claims, and 'a poem is something to do in the meantime-not as a pastime, but as an active preparation.as you and I await Horizon's homecoming.' Donald Revell seldom speaks directly about God and never comes across as dogmatic, but the sense of the Divine-sometimes called 'Horizon,' sometimes 'energies,' sometimes 'presence'-buzzes about and alights here on the confluence of 'the indispensable uselessness of all saints' and there on the joyful 'gospel sound' of Henry David Thoreau. In defense of poetry, Revell makes an important distinction between mind and mindfulness, transcending genre and speaking the sort of truth one writes on a scrap of paper and stuffs in a pocket to keep close at hand: 'Throw away your mind; it is a ragbag of wishes and words. Mind can only recognize the wearing and worn-out measures of itself. If you find yourself in a cave, you needn't unpuzzle the shadows on the wall. Turn yourself round and walk into the sunshine making them.' 187 pp.
An Eighth Day View:
Beginning with nine essays published in "American Poetry Review," which enact intimate converse with an array of writers, this book examines language and humanness in a way that extends insights into the nature and necessity of poetry. The collection also includes eight additional essays that range from lively considerations of the writings of Henry Thoreau, John Ashbery, and others, to more personal essays in which Revell examines the relationships between language and life, memory and culture and draws his reader into a dynamic exchange about what it means to be a reader and writer in today's world.