Magnetic North
Linda Gregerson
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Buy *Magnetic North: Poems* by Linda Gregerson online

Magnetic North: Poems
Linda Gregerson
Houghton Mifflin
80 pages
March 2007
rated 4 of 5 possible stars

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When you read and understand a poem, comprehending its
rich and formal meanings, then you master chaos a little.

- Stephen Spender
Linda Gregerson’s new book of poetry, Magnetic North, is a work that demands more from the reader than many books of poetry do. It demands an undivided attention to its rhythms, nuances of thought, and associations to things of this world, making us ponder art, science, history and nature.

The poem “Spring Snow” is an exquisite piece, evoking nature with clean precision;


a six-hour wonder: six
new inches bedecking the

railing, the bench, the top
he circular table like

a risen cake.
It is a rewarding book which gives up its treasures to those who are willing to follow its sometimes elusive verse; catch it, study it, and finally understand its layered meaning. The result is a book whose richness opens like a vein of gold hidden in a remote mountain which is searched for and found, not obvious to lazy prospectors but to those willing to dig deeper.

“The Burning of Madrid as Seen from the Terrace of My House,” based on a retrospective exhibition of the sculptor Juan Munoz, is a poem that has movement and ends with the lines


the stagehands be surprised when they return

from break.
You see the little balconies?

How easily they burn?
It’s lines like these, throughout the book, that ignite thoughts as the poem is being read - thoughts that continue to spark and flare after the cover is closed on the book.

Gregerson gives us her unique insights into the world we inhabit; she’s a writer whose thinking goes into the deeper waters of the ocean that is the mind.

The writing in the poem “Father Mercy, Mother Tongue” is so strong you can taste the words, as the author speaks of 1935 and the ‘Red bowl of dust,’ how this dust settled everywhere…

     The sugarbowl
was red with it, the very words we spoke

   were dirt.
Linda Gregerson shows the extent of her talent in the fade-to-black ending of the poem “At the Window.” Here we see art on the page - an ending as beautiful, to me, as the ending of Ingmar Bergman’s film Wild Strawberries. It is no coincidence, I think, that she chose to write the poem “The Turning,” based on another Ingmar Bergman film Winter Light. I see the same aesthetic in her work as are in his films: understated beauty and elegance.

Magnetic North is a book that requires repeated readings so that the intricacies and complexity of construction can reveal itself …here a little, there a little.

There is virtue in patience, and good things come to those who wait, and wait upon, this book of poems which slowly reveals itself with each reading.

Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at © Michael Ugulini, 2007

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