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Art and Culture

Likely Stories: Letting Myself In

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Pleasing, warm, and relaxing all describe the poetry of Anne McCrady.

I’m Jim McKeown, welcome to Likely Stories, a weekly review of fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and biographies.

According to the profile in the East Texas Writer’s Guild, Anne McCrady’s poetry and creative non-fiction have appeared internationally in literary journals, anthologies and magazines.  Her two poetry collections have both been prize winners, as have dozens of her single poems.  Besides her writing, editorial and review publication credits, Anne offers keynotes, workshops, retreat programs, inspirational presentations and events in support of poetry, storytelling, community organizations and peace.  Anne lives in Henderson, Texas with her husband, Mike, and she is the founder of InSpiritry, where she is “Putting Words to Work for a Better World.”

I met Anne McCrady at a poetry workshop a few years ago, and immediately felt a connection to her poetry.  In her latest collection, Letting Myself In, she deals cleverly with tremendously visual descriptions of lives in transition.  She captures the feel and the emotions of East Texas and the people who live and struggle to reach their dreams.

Many of her poems have become favorites of mine, so choosing which to quote for this review was not easy.  The second poem in the collection, “Aubade.” personally struck me close to my own view of life.  She writes, “Of all the time to travel / a new road, why choose now? / How hard it will be / to move from the hearth / just as logs are being hauled inside, / how odd to life from the hook / beside the door, my jacket -- / its weight an informal burden / on my September shoulders. // Turning to go, / I cannot think / what to take along: / a map, a dog, my books. / Maybe it is better / to travel light, / off on my own this time, / each step a reluctant soldier’s song / of how hard – oh, how hard – it is to leave home” (5).  I do a lot of traveling to visit far flung family members these days, and this poem feels comforting as I head out onto the road.

Another favorite is “October Rain.”  McCrady writes, ‘In the garden, / leftover moisture clings / to bits of fading growth, / pools on cool, curled vines, / drips in strands of pearls / to the soggy earth beneath. // Time is muffled. / Day cannot climb out / of dawn’s damp blanket. / With no breeze, settled, / wood smoke sleeps in. / Live oak flags hang slack, / and pine boughs wait for word. // For now things can wait. / Like circling geese, / life and clouds float patiently / watching for signs / of a good, hard blow . to dry out the coming day / and open up a clear, cold sky” (13).

Finally, “Into Evening.”  “Now the days grow short. / In homage to what’s done / as best we could do it, / we set ablaze our mounds / of fallen leaves and twigs. / Against the hastening shadows, / they are bright candles burning / birthday orange and gold. // Leaning on our yard rakes / in a sunset trance, we stare, / hypnotized by the swirl / of dancing, smoky flames / until the faces of children / we once were flicker, flare … / and we name again / the things that make us burn” (60).

“Putting words to work,” is an excellent motto for the poetry of Anne McCrady.  Her collection is a warm, calming, and seductive exploration of the world we live in.  Letting Myself In should have that effect on you.  5 stars.

Likely Stories is a production of KWBU.  I’m Jim McKeown.  You can read my book blog at RabbitReader.blogspot.com.  Join me again next time for Likely Stories, and happy reading!