cover image Whosoever Whole

Whosoever Whole

Elizabeth Scanlon. Omnidawn, $19.95 trade paper (72p) ISBN 978-1-63243-129-5

These candid and skillful poems from Scanlon (Lonesome Gnosis) offer original observations about aging, motherhood, and life as a woman on an increasingly unstable planet. “How is your Anthropocene going?/ How many more days of collapse/ do you have in you?” she asks the reader with matter-of-fact weariness. Scanlon pushes back against mainstream messages seeped with toxic positivity: “It’s insulting to be told not to be sad/ when there’s no recourse,/ to be told everything/ will be ok.” Elsewhere, she asks, “How do we/ unlearn the drive for more?/ We’ve never not loved excess.” Where some are paralyzed by despair, Scanlon seems animated by it. “Our own irritation is blinding, I know,” she admits, but then writes about remembering how she heard roses bloom as a child, an experience she describes as “paper crumpled in reverse.” Other moments are spectacularly alive on the page, as when she likens egg yolks to “five suns in a bowl.” In “A Request,” Scanlon breaks down the painful reality of loving that which dies and wonders whether growing old just means living more defensively. Scanlon’s excellent collection is determined to see to the heart of living and invites readers to do the same. (July)