Each Leaf Shines Separate (Magill's Literary Annual 1985)
Each Leaf Shines Separate is not a particularly memorable or euphonious title for a book of poems; when someone who cares deeply about the sound of language decides to take a phrase such as that for a book title, one needs to consider what the author wants with it. This is a first collection, but Rosanna Warren has strengths that are rarely found in third or fourth collections: deftness with technique, breadth of range and tone, usable familiarity with the past.
The title is taken from the longest poem in the book. “Through the East Door” is dedicated to Theora Hamblett, a painter who lived in Oxford, Mississippi, from 1895 to 1977. The poem has two voices, the narrator’s in Roman type, the painter’s in italics; as they alternate, there emerges a complex portrait of a primitive painter, driven by forces she nearly understands and almost fears, and devoted to a life of getting her dreams and recollections down on canvas:
Haywagon crosses a ford:river vertical,trees a smoked olivey greenThe hay with the children slides off, old Danstands up on the single-tree, wavers, falls,white head smacking river rock whilethe mules strain forward.He...
(The entire section is 1886 words.)
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