Post and Rail
The formal deftness of these couplets—three per page of almost exactly the same length which are, yes, a set of fence rails. Some might find that sort of strategy suspect: the idea that a formal or structural device could shape a collection in a meaningful way, but in this case, it is so very well done. The collection's personal, at least historically personal—family history, in which we get to know an ever more silent coal miner father and an eerily silent-but-communicative mother, as well as the fences, literal and figurative, that keep them separate and together. The family is the fence and the fence is the family; we're on one side, and we're on the other side of those rails. Add to this certain aspects of astronomical physics (black holes, the big bang, the sound of the universe speaking), and the book is both modest and immensely ambitious.
About the Author
Erica Funkhouser is the author of many books, including Earthly, Pursuit, and Sure Shot and Other Poems. Her essay on Sacagawea appears in Lewis and Clark by Ken Burns and Dayton Duncan. Her poems have appeared in The New Yorker, The Atlantic, Ploughshares, The Paris Review, and Poetry. Funkhouser was honored as a Literary Light by the Boston Public Library in 2002 and in 2007 she received a Guggenheim Fellowship in Poetry. She lives in Essex, Massachusetts and teaches at MIT.
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