Book Reviews: Through these 26 haunting poems, which draw from sources ranging from Dante to Baudelaire to Berryman to Millay, Simone Muench reimagines the figure of the wolf and the cento form by interrogating the possibilities, limits, and interplay of language, the human animal, and the hungry landscapes of relationship and poetic homage. Muench’s speakers confront their own darkness and mortality through flickers of wilderness and heat: “Tonight, the wolf is a solitary shadow / that spills between stone & revery / as bodies resume their boundaries. / … / Facedown, I lick away the footprints.” Through evocations of the animate self – wolf and human – Muench’s traces leave behind a living heart, a mark in the snow. Lyrical, elliptical, and intertextual, Trace looks fiercely into the animal dark to reveal “a vaulting sunrise, hissing salt.”
Praise for Trace:
Simone Muench’s wolf centos are an astonishing poetic achievement. They are both gorgeous and dangerous, powerful and sleek, elusive yet alluring. Ultimately, the poems are like wolves themselves—they are mysterious, we want to see them and to know them. What is most amazing is how Muench manages to construct poems from lines and fragments of other poems that are as intense, as charged, and as revelatory as a typical Simone Muench poem. I wonder if there is anything she cannot do. This is one of the most intriguing books of poems I’ve read in the last several years. —Dean Rader.
Simone Muench traces the outline of loss in the shape of a wolf. Part howl, part flower, this brilliant and passionate new collection of poetry combines quotations with memory. Muench leaves traces of other writers’ lines on the forest floor for readers to follow, path to a fairy tale in which animals swallow human emotions and humans turn feral by starlight. Trace highlights Muench’s dazzling, delirious wordplay; her poems double as musical notation, sound detached from referent that exists purely for the pleasures of the tongue. —Carol Guess.
About the Author:
SIMONE MUENCH is the author of The Air Lost in Breathing (Marianne Moore Prize; Helicon Nine, 2000), Lampblack & Ash (Kathryn A. Morton Prize; Sarabande, 2005), Orange Crush (Sarabande, 2010) and Disappearing Address, co-written with Philip Jenks (BlazeVOX, 2010). Some of her honors include a 2013 NEA Poetry Fellowship, a Yaddo residency, 2011 and 2012 Vermont Studio Center Fellowships, Illinois Arts Council Fellowships, a Lewis Faculty Scholar Award, and the PSA’s Bright Lights Big Verse Award. She received her Ph.D from the University of Illinois at Chicago, and is a professor at Lewis University where she teaches creative writing and film studies, and serves as chief faculty advisor for Jet Fuel Review.
What do we leave, living?
Always the silence remains kneeling—
each letter a closed house.
& what comes after, looking back
on the mind itself, looking for home
as night drifts up like a little boat
or a pattern of small flowers.
There a screen of vertical timber,
trees fade over into fog
just as bodies flow
safe from the wolf’s black jaw.