Barbara Crooker’s admiration and affection for visual art, as evidenced in numerous ekphrastic poems, is witnessed in the vividly descriptive—perhaps painterly—vocabulary she exhibits throughout Some Glad Morning. Indeed, she also frequently seems to ‘speak in the tongues of flowers’ with a lyrical language borrowed from elements of the physical world around her, especially when displaying human interaction with aspects of nature, food, music, and those others for whom we care and with whom we share these gifts. Consequently, Crooker’s colorfully textured and sensitively expressive poetry always offers delight to readers’ eyes and ears.
Some Glad Morning, Barbara Crooker’s ninth book of poetry, teeters between joy and despair, faith and doubt, the disconnect between lived experience and the written word. Primarily a lyric poet, Crooker is in love with the beauty and mystery of the natural world, even as she recognizes its fragility. But she is also a poet unafraid to write about the consequences of our politics, the great divide. She writes as well about art, with ekphrastic poems on paintings by Hopper, O’Keeffe, Renoir, Matisse, Cézanne, and others. Many of the poems are elegaic in tone, an older writer tallying up her losses. Her work embodies Bruce Springsteen’s dictum, “it ain’t no sin to be glad we’re alive,” as she celebrates the explosion of spring peonies, chocolate mousse, a good martini, hummingbirds’ flashy metallics, the pewter light of September, Darryl Dawkins (late NBA star), saltine crackers. While she recognizes it might all be about to slip away, “Remember that nothing is ever lost,” she writes, and somehow, we do.
Darkness / will not overtake us,’ insists Barbara Crooker, who writes poems of deep happiness. How untrendy! one might say. Where’s the political? Where’s grief? They’re here too, underpinning these poems, but not allowed governance. ‘O / day! You are the antidote / to the bitter news of the world.’ If we have only one life, better to enjoy each glad morning, and some evenings too: ‘So let me lean back in this red Adirondack / chair as dusk makes us all equal, happy for the blend / of herbs and gin, pure sapphire, the dividend of olive / at the end.’ Like Edward Hopper, one of the artists whose work Crooker inhabits in these pages, her ‘subject is light,’ interior as well as exterior, and the birds and trees and humans who revel in it.
Barbara Crooker's poems invite us into her garden, into castles and museums, into the rich complexity of life. Using language full of passion and metaphor, Crooker paints each line, like an artist, with precision and beauty. She celebrates even the smallest moment showing us that time is slippery as a silver fish. Cheers to Crooker's dry martinis, to her wit and wisdom, to this remarkable collection.
Barbara Crooker is the author of eight books of poetry, including Les Fauves and The Book of Kells. Her first book, Radiance, won the 2005 Word Press First Book Award and was finalist for the 2006 Paterson Poetry Prize; Line Dance, her second book, won the 2009 Paterson Award for Excellence in Literature. Crooker is a poetry editor for Italian Americana and has received a number of awards, including the WB Yeats Society of New York Award, the Thomas Merton Poetry of the Sacred Award, and three Pennsylvania Council on the Arts Creative Writing Fellowships. Her work has appeared in numerous journals and anthologies.