by Brendan Galvin
Southern Illinois University Press, 2017
eISBN: 978-0-8093-3608-1 | Paper: 978-0-8093-3607-4
Library of Congress Classification PS3557.A44A6 2017
Dewey Decimal Classification 811.54

An endangered right whale attempting to nurse her new calf in the December ocean, foxgloves blooming in different places from year to year, or the rescue of imperiled Kemp’s ridley sea turtles—the bounty and cruelty of nature infuses this latest collection of poems from Brendan Galvin, which takes as its maxim finding the extraordinary in the ordinary all around us.

The poems chronicle the waxing and waning of the seasons from one winter to the next in the area around Egg Island, the dunes near a small seacoast town on the outermost reaches of Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Galvin’s training as a naturalist and environmental writer is evident as his practiced eye roves the waves, marshes, and forests, finding meaning and beauty in the smallest detail— bird-watching, rebuilding a woodpile, or the flight of bobwhite quail. Other poems recall the poet’s affectionate memories of his deceased wife and the life they shared together, acknowledging grief without veering into the maudlin. Always present beneath the surface is the question of where humans fit into this wild, ever-changing landscape.

In meditations that recall the poetry and prose of Mary Oliver or W. S. Merwin, Galvin sets off on a vivid journey sure to increase readers’ appreciation for the natural world. Perhaps his most compelling message is that readers need not jet off to Everest or Kilimanjaro to experience mystery and beauty on Earth—there’s wonder aplenty in our own backyards.

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