by Grace Bauer

Mary Burritt Christiansen Poetry Series, University of New Mexico Press, 2017. ISBN 978-0-826-35777-9.
Reviewed by Jazz Jaeschke
Posted on 03/20/2017

Poetry; Nonfiction: Life Lessons; Nonfiction: Nature/Place/Environment

Elusive time is as tricky to describe as to manage. But Grace Bauer gives us poetic renderings of the human pursuit (and endurance) of time's nuances. These fifty-five poems are all about time, a variety of encounters and perspectives that intrigue while giving rise to ah-ha moments and the warm sense that someone understands.

Bauer writes directly to the reader, as in "Half-Full": know the nature of time
is to be, like your breath, always moving—
while not going anywhere
but here and, for whatever while
your luck allows you, on.

Some of Bauer's poems are stories, some reflections, some simply ponder prompts. A few might be read as dreams: set your reality aside and follow the trail of illusion to its end (or source) in wisdom anyone can relate to.

Bauer has a way with associations that invite imagination, as in "Dis/Illusions.:

clear as day once you'd caught it—and all your notions
of beauty transformed instantly into
something else—something not unpleasant,
actually, an invitation one might feel
inclined to accept.

The poem "Fret" grabs and pulls the reader into the waiting game:

...agony of anticipation, a limbo
you hang in, waiting so long
to hear that you begin to dread
what you will hear, so the nothing
becomes both a blessing and curse,
comfort and torment, an ever-present
possibly not-so-good or worse
you can't help preparing for

My recommendation? Open this book. Open your mind. Be prepared to be surprised, to find yourself between the lines. Keep this book handy for needed breaks when time has you tightly wound. As Bauer notes in "Mean/Time":

There's no getting around
all the things you never
got around to doing.
Take the time to relax into these poems!

Grace Bauer is an established poet with multiple published books and awards, including the Academy of American Poets Prize. Bauer is currently a senior book prize reader for Prairie Schooner and the coordinator of creative writing at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, where she has been teaching since 1994.

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