Wild Place by Erica Goss is a chapbook, published by Finishing Line Press, examining the wild places within ourselves and our interactions with nature. Wild and untamed, the verse sings the beauty in the blame as humanity encroaches on nature, sometimes leading to its destruction and at other times unveiling the beauty beneath the scars. Goss has a talent for using few words to create a powerful and vivid image that sends a message to the reader about the wildness of nature and ourselves. From “This Is a Wild Place” (page 10), “The little junk birds peck at foil,//and I am called away from my body/to forage for my life/out in the open.//” and from “New Colors” (page 16), “in an anonymous/coffee shop/a child waved/to me from//his father’s arms/fingers opening/and closing like/pink fronds//of a sea anemone.//”
Some poems are haunting, like “The Redwoods,” in which she compares the trees to whales sifting krill and how they sing in the windy darkness. She tackles the fears of aging and clinging to the the past in several poems, including “The Redwoods,” but rather focus on nostalgic rose-colored images of the past, she highlights the splinters that gnaw at our sensibilities and the scars they create and how they shape who we become. There is a certain wisdom that we all garner as we age, and rather than celebrate it, many times we are too focused on what might have been.
Although the California landscape and other West coast settings play a significant role in her poems, Goss also takes us out of our American element with poems like “Strange Land” and “Woman in the Berlin Airport,” in which she tackles assumptions of Americans about how foreigners act and react and how they see us. From “Strange Land” (page 24), “America takes practice/mother prepares/our daily lessons//each morning we emigrate/our fermenting lunchboxes/ripe with foreign stink//the war of two languages/leaves us mute in school/speak up, the teacher says//” Goss tackles the hardships of fitting in when one comes to America from somewhere else and the expectations that places on them and their children, but within the same poem, there is a nod to the past — in this case, WWII — and how it is best left in the past and not brought into the new “shining” future.
Even as Goss uses nature imagery to pull out her themes of aging, fitting in, and moving onward, she also does an excellent job providing breathtaking verse about mechanical objects, such as the airplane in “Leaving Frankfurt.” Readers will rise and fall with the aircraft as it leaves one city for another and the narrator immerses herself in the experience. Wild Place by Erica Goss is stunning to the point where readers will not look at the world in the same way; they will be forced to look further, to think harder, to accept more — broadening their perspective and horizons so that they become more conscientious about themselves and the world around them.
About the Poet:
Erica Goss is the winner of the 2011 Many Mountains Moving Poetry Contest. Her chapbook, Wild Place, was published in 2012 by Finishing Line Press. Her poems, articles and reviews have appeared in many journals, most recently Connotation Press, Hotel Amerika, Pearl, Main Street Rag, Rattle, Eclectica, Blood Lotus, Café Review, Zoland Poetry, Comstock Review, Lake Effect, and Perigee.
She won the first Edwin Markham Poetry Prize in 2007, judged by California’s Poet Laureate Al Young, and was nominated for a Pushcart Prize in 2010. Erica teaches creative writing and humanities in the Bay Area and is a contributing editor for Cerise Press. She holds an MFA from San Jose State University. If you live in California, please attend one of her local events near you.
***For today’s National Poetry Month blog tour stop, please visit Indie Reader Houston.***
This is the 8th book for my 2012 Fearless Poetry Exploration Reading Challenge.
This is my 26th book for the 2012 New Authors Challenge.