Results of the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award in the year 2003.
“The river is largely implicit here,” writes Linda Gregerson about her acre of woods. Whether open to view or underground, her river maps communal fate: everything that lives is its direct dependent. The river can also bring infection: it is a branching repository for toxicity. It carries news, much of which is a litany of harm—recklessness, malice, failures of heart, and failures of attention—but the poems in Waterborne somehow extract from adversity a syntax of devotion.
“The past / that has a place for us will know us by / our scattered wake,” Gregerson also writes. The resilient tercets in which these poems are written might themselves be thought of as a scattered wake—the luminous record of movement through various lives. These stirring poems can be considered tools for staging daily rescues from oblivion. Their occasions are diverse—a barn fire, a wounded deer, a child’s determined struggle with a bicycle—but their instinct is always to wrest from the impure world a vernacular of praise.
As Mark Strand has written, “Linda Gregerson’s poetry is among the very best being written.”