Christine Candland describes her evocative poetry collection as “whimsical and lighthearted verses based on real-life experiences, art, and travel.” Indeed, the volume offers enjoyable glimpses of people, places, and objects significant to the poet-speaker’s life.
Candland’s free-verse, narrative work has a crisp, clean style that relies on concrete nouns and sensory details. Readers are easily drawn into scenes she creates, able to picture each moment. She resists generalizations, excelling at employing specific details to make memorable images. For example, in “Celery,” she writes: “When Mom and Dad/ talked about his salary/ I thought they meant celery// and I dreamed of the stalks/ being traded for dollars and// wondered if they weighed the celery whole/ or just counted the stalks one by one.”
Readers meet interesting characters, including “The Ladies in the Neighborhood” and the title character “Snow,” a mysterious woman observed in a diner: “Long legs, suede brown coat, black straight/ skirt with kick pleat…” Candland also brings works of visual art alive: “Trapped in the Duomo by day/ Delphi and the rest of the Sibyls/ (composed of white marble)/ have plenty to say about/ salvation and resurrection”
As a collection of light verse, this volume is superlative. Still, one often wishes the poet would go deeper. The work lacks a greater thread of tension or gravitas, a deeper reckoning on the part of the poet-speaker to balance the light verse. Some of the poems, like “Weight,” which promise close inspection of a social issue such as body image, shy away from a thorough exploration of the subject: “Suppose she could pass on the/ cookie that winks and/ choose the cottage cheese instead/ and never lusted for size zeros.” The poem concludes too easily with “If only…”
Candland’s debut collection presents a world readers will thoroughly enjoy entering. To reach a wider audience of devoted poetry readers, she needs only build upon what’s here by grappling more tenaciously with her place in that world.
Also available in hardcover and ebook.