Carol Smallwood's Water, Earth, Air, Fire, and Picket Fences is a vibrant collection of poems that left me a bit unsettled in the end because she writes about the human experience from so many different angles, Smallwood not merely scratching the surface but digs deeply, pulling up both the beautiful and the ugly, the transcendent and the common place.
Unlike many poets, Smallwood does not stick to one form. Instead, she keeps the reader unsettled and guessing what will come next, alternating between formal and free verse from poem to poem. She uses repetition to drive images and perceptions home, so that I found myself thinking about some of the poems long after I shut the cover of the book. I look forward to coming back to Smallwood's poems again, knowing that I will see something every time I return.
Carol Smallwood's over four dozen nonfiction books include Women on Poetry: Writing, Revising, Publishing and Teaching, on Poets & Writers Magazine list of Best Books for Writers. Bringing the Arts into the Library, her sixth book for the American Library Association, is a 2014 anthology. Her first poetry collection that appeared after a chapbook was nominated for the Pushcart Prize; hundreds of her award winning poems have appeared in literary magazines in the United States and abroad.
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