On the surface, Grace Notes might almost seem to be a kind of poetic autobiography. As a book, it is neatly divided into five discrete sections, and this five-part format corresponds, in a general way, to phases in Dove’s life. The first section deals with childhood memories, the second with her thirtieth birthday, and the third with her daughter, Aviva. The last sections, however, do not seem to follow this pattern of personal evolutionary growth, at least not on first reading. Sections 4 and 5 contain poems with such titles as “Ars Poetica,” “Medusa,” “Genie’s Prayer Under the Kitchen Sink,” “Obbligato,” and “Lint.” Yet these poems also represent part of the artistic evolution of the poet, because the most sophisticated growth occurs on the spiritual and artistic planes. The final poems thus reveal general truths about art discovered by personal meditation on items as ordinary and ubiquitous as lint.
Grace Notes is such a remarkable example of poetic craftsmanship that it might almost serve as a textbook for literary devices. Similes and metaphors abound in this little masterpiece. In the poem titled “Hully Gully,” the moon is “riding the sky/ like a drop of oil on water.” In “Horse and Tree,” the entire poem becomes a complex metaphor linking horses and trees; the rider of a beautiful tree-horse experiences the magical sensation of “hair blown to froth.”
Many of the poems in...
(The entire section is 527 words.)