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The Usable Field
by Jane Mead
These lyric elegies, spoken by the “under-self,” become a series of subtle chants which sing the speaker into being both physically and spiritually, and through which Mead seeks solace, enlightenment, and joy in the cycles of life and death in the natural world.
Paperback, 96 pages
Published May 1st 2008 by Alice James Books
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The language Mead shares with the devout she fiercely, tenderly, makes herself subject to, in a trope, not from religious life, but from business: the speaker enacts an "audit," for which, however, these poems feel no less devout. I think her language is "the usable field" in The Usable Field. A resemblance, flesh of Christ in groundwork -- this she will call "The Part -- and the Whole of It:" "Stocking the globe is not | my issue, taking stock | is my issue, and deciding" what this fifty year o ...more
A highly anticipated release for me. And I was lucky enough to read it in a quiet apartment. The electricity was out because of the hurricane. In that silence I felt Mead's silence, her way of creating an emotional landscape, wide as it is deep, with each word treading through that space easily and deliberately. It is a quiet book, with grief as its subject, while openly admitting words are only slight referents to such a subject.
Early on in Jane Mead’s third collection, The Usable Field, in the poem,“The Part – and the Whole of it,” Mead states “Stocking the globe is not/ my issue, taking stock is my issue – and deciding /what to do next.” And this is indeed a collection that is all about collecting one’s self and taking a deep breath. And for readers of Mead, this probably comes as a necessary relief after the poet’s very intense House of Poured Out Waters. The poet seems, after the trauma and violence of her previous ...more
I loved how Mead creates physical texture in her lines. She writes about nature and sense impressions with jagged sensitivity. I also deeply appreciated that her poems were about loss, about the pain of losing loved ones, about the soul-searching that occurs in coping, in finding her place in the cosmos.