An Ark of Sorts
by Celia Gilbert

Alice James Poetry Cooperative, Inc., 1998. ISBN 1-882295-18-8.
Reviewed by Trilla Pando
Posted on 01/23/2008


"This is terrible. We mustn't think about it anymore," an anguished boy tells his mother, who is overcome by fresh grief over his beloved young sister's death. With a poet's voice, Celia Gilbert allows the mother to speak, healing permeating her words.

Exiled by grief and temporary removal with her family to Paris, the mother examines and then slowly returns from the brink of loss. She cannot but enter the unmapped journey. Too much remains: two children still to love and nurture, a beloved husband, her own unfolding life.

This chapbook, the winner of the first Jane Kenyon Chapbook Award, recounts Gilbert's movement through the year following the death of her daughter--the children have school and piano lessons, the table must be set. Gradually, gradually, hope and acceptance emerge. The balcony of their temporary dwelling becomes "an ark of sorts" that "bear me between earth and air." The poems carry her between loss and acceptance.

Gilbert's words capture the concreteness of the city and the ongoing routines of daily life as clearly as they translate the aching of her mourning spirit and her refusal to completely relinquish the lost love. Any who have known such loss will find acknowledgement and comfort in her lines. All language lovers will appreciate her artistry. The book is a darkly sparkling gem.

Celia Gilbert is both a poet and a visual artist. She has won a Discovery Award and a Poetry Society of America Emily Dickinson Prize, as well as the Jane Kenyon Chapbook Award and others. She lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Her visual art can be viewed on her website. Her artist's statement reflects her poetry; she is "concerned with the possibility of transformation...the place where the real merges with the idea."

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