In Nora Gould’s one-of-a-kind debut, the Prairie itself is a central character: muse, mythic persona, the place of deepest solace and of deepest questioning. The poems focus with great firmness and technical command on the facts of daily life on the farm: impregnating cows, the neighbour kid picking off a coyote, cutting hay, getting water to the herd in a drought, dehorning. But Prairie anecdotalism this ain’t. What is breathtaking about this book is the relation between its exactness of observation and the grief, horror, and beauty that it documents. What the voice achieves, in its very gestures, is a kind of transcendence: not with the purpose of avoiding pain, but in order to make all of it—all of it—seeable and feelable by a human being.
“Fear,” as Gould says “resides in anticipation and in the afterwards, the what-might-have-been and the badger of again.” In the white light of the now, there is no room for it, there is room only for concentration, a precise surgical rendering of details, so that we may sense everything else—the unspeakable—disposing itself in the space around that blaze of attention.