ISBN 978-096691778-9, 978-0-9669177-8-9, 96 pp, 2011, $18.00
Quiver is Nathalie Anderson's most thematically wide-ranging and formally ambitious work to date. Underlined throughout by music, this collection is a many-sided reclamation of place and an invigorating account how we relate to the various physical, familial, moral, sexual and literary landscapes we encounter as we grow in experience of the world. Along the way, we are treated to accounts of a Southern girlhood, of time spent in England and, in some of the best poems ever written by an American poet about Ireland, explorations of life in remote Irish places. Quiver, elegant and racy, is a work of great complexity and rare beauty that marks Nathalie Anderson as one of our finest poets.
Think of Nathalie Anderson's Quiver as the bouquet of arrows the poet draws from, her powerful ammunition of word and song. It's "the bow's burr on the hoarse strings" in the gorgeous "Slow Airs," "a husky whisper, whiskey throated." It's also the body's reverberation, honed from memory and longing, zinging to life in poem after poem, exuberant, sumptuous, and dazzling.
Out of the pine straw, gentility and heat of a Southern girlhood, Nathalie Anderson has managed bravely to name some of the unnameables of human experience. She is a writer for whom it is inevitable that the pleasures of language and the pleasures of the body are revealed to be in some measure identical, even if (as in her poem "Squeeze") a love affair with Sleep should lead inevitably to a double date with Sleep's older brother Death.
In the cool ardor and nuanced intelligence of Nathalie Anderson's poems, the world is gorgeously returned in words, reversing a history of familial erasures and euphemisms with unabashed candor: "a strong line straight across the bias." A tour-de-force command of English, elegant and earthy at once and by turns—such intense pleasure when what won't hold still is caught: "light settling, unsettling;" "the quaver at the heart/of any whole note."