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The Saning

by Linda Rogers

Linda Rogers’ latest collection of poems is a delicate masterwork of brutality, a rich evocation of the tragedy and magic of human existence. Little prepares the reader for the intensity and deep pleasure The Saning brings.

Rogers has a simplicity and directness of tone, a plainspoken quality in direct counterpoint to the dense lushness of the symbolic and imagistic language throughout, a language redolent of dreams, myths, fairy-tales, and visions. Many of the poems grow from innocent, anecdotal images: a baby being thrown into the air, or children feeding bread to swans. These moments act as points of departure, folding into themselves as Rogers ventures into the dreamtime, complex images clarifying and gaining power as they shift and interweave from poem to poem.

There is a sense in The Saning that anything can, and will, happen, a malleability of theme, image, and ultimately language itself, coupled with a resolute moral and social conscience. Rogers writes with a deep awareness of the past, of ancestors and antecedents, of those who have gone before us, and of those being crushed around us. There is both beauty and brutality here, Rogers’ fragile and delicate images giving way to visions of genocide, drug addiction, violence, and death.

I have only a few minor reservations about The Saning. There is a relentlessness to this collection, an almost excessive power in the accrued poems that requires carefully rationed reading to prevent being overwhelmed. This contributes to a sense that the collection as a whole lacks the resolution that so closely linked a selection deserves: one risks coming away with a sense of despair that is at odds with the hope that underpins many of the poems individually. These poems will haunt you: I find myself with Rogers’ images in my dreams and her language in my ears, a situation at once profoundly disturbing and deeply rewarding.