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Darwin’s Breath by Connie Jordan Green.

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In the first poem in this, Connie Jordan Green’s second collection after two chapbooks, she surveys the Cumberland Mountains to the north and west and the Smokies to the south and east from her farm home in Loudon County, Tennessee. She wonders about the evolution of the land and its creatures and ends with the question: “How then to speak/ of the soul, wish for its whisper/as we skirt the ordinary,/ waking, sleeping, waking,/ our lives deepening into dust?/. One of the unifying themes of this collection is the gardens in the poet’s life, in Eastern Kentucky as a child, in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, where her family moved for work, and on the Loudon County farm where she has lived most of her adult life. “Darwin's Breath connects us to those who have come before--Neruda, Oliver, grandmothers, fathers, grapevines, and rocks. It rises ‘like mushrooms after rain’ or ‘dough my mother pinched into rolls’ to illustrate a lifetime of growth. A life, here, measured not in coffee spoons but tea cups, potato parings, spelling lists, and clods of broken earth--over which the gardener kneels knowing that gain is always two parts loss. -Amy Wright. “The poems in Connie Jordan Green's collection, Darwin's Breath, remind me of the wisdom found in the work of Mary Oliver and Wendell Berry, which understands that looking clearly at the world and offering an accurate rendering of its natural processes remains the poet's truest calling. Green offers extremely well-made poems about making, suffused with the pleasures of craft and quality work. Connie Jordan Green's poems invite the reader to inhabit them, and to share in their quest for the fullness of life.”--Jesse Graves

Oak Ridge, Tennessee: Iris Press: 2018. 104 pages. Trade paperback