Touching Distances: Diary Poems - Anne Cluysenaar

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In this most engaging collection of ‘diary poems’, Anne Cluysenaar moves through two years of life, 2010 – 2012, with the volume opening and closing in December.

Winter seems exactly right as a frame for these poems, given the questions posed about death and life’s chancy transient nature that trickle through the collection. But inevitably, too, there is light as well as shade, as the poems move through their seasons.

From the outset, the poems display a keen sense of journeying – not so much literally travelling over distances, but, rather, journeying inwardly through past, present and imagined future experiences, probing boundaries and wondering at the permeability of selves, so crucially a part of ‘the mystery of being’. On the loss of a close friend, she writes: ‘Your shadow beside me perhaps, in the fold/of a different universe’ (‘June 23’). In the same poem, she likens the page she is working on as it ‘darkens with criss and cross -/possibilities, rejections, choices’ to the possibility of some kind of parallel existence, an idea familiar in Quantum Physics: ‘I see/how the printed page can be only one/of many unprinted but no less real’.

Repeatedly, there is the sense created of commonality between past humans and ourselves, and indeed, the connections between living beings don’t stop at the human. The language too is invitational: accessible, I would suggest, for a wide readership, though always multi-layered and rich in meaning.

Author biography