2013 Reading: Secure the Shadow by Claudia Emerson

secureSecure the Shadow: Poems by Claudia Emerson.

I would have read this collection even if it weren’t a finalist for the Library of Virginia Award in Poetry because Emerson, who has been on faculty at the Sewanee Writers’ Conference several times (maybe every time?) when I’ve been there, is a wonderful poet. I truly enjoyed one of her previous books, Late Wife, which won the Pulitzer Prize.

This is a melancholy collection, dealing as it does with death and memories, but as Kelly Cherry says in her endorsement, the poems are “graceful, sturdy, fiercely controlled, [and] profoundly imaged.”

The title of the book comes from an advertising slogan for postmortem images of the deceased: “Secure the shadow ‘ere the substance fade.” The title poem describes several such images. Other poems grapple with the the deaths of a sibling, a parent, pets, farm animals–it’s everywhere and unavoidable.

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