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Essman, E. (2018). Preserve by Susan Kolodny Georgetown, Kentucky: Finishing Line Press, 2017; 59 pp.. Fort Da, 24(2):90-96.

(2018). Fort Da, 24(2):90-96

Preserve by Susan Kolodny Georgetown, Kentucky: Finishing Line Press, 2017; 59 pp.

Review by:
Eric Essman, M.A.


Unlike children exploring — in the transition among impulse, play, and curiosity — adults on safari, not knowing a thing about the whereabouts of whatever there is of sudden life, do well to scan the surroundings with evenly floating attention. Yet, if one has patience — and the direction of sharp-eyed guides, like “Monso” in Susan Kolodny's poem of the same name — nature offers a montage of rest, startled movement, drift, and dwelling:

After [Monso] has shown us the sleeping pride,

baboons spilling from the trees,

a lone bull elephant, gray-crowned cranes

and sacred ibis along the river,

the duplex nest of marabou stork

built over the lagoon,

eland, waterbucks protected by law

and in their native, pristine habitat…. (p. 10)

Coupling “law” and “habitat,” Kolodny shows that for wild nature to flourish, it must be defended from human predation. The symbolic must shelter the real.

Kolodny prefaces Preserve, her second book of poetry, with a quotation from Henry David Thoreau's “In wilderness is the preservation of the world” (1862/2017). Accordant with Thoreau's exhortation, Kolodny's title may be read as an imperative as well as a place, proclaiming the mutual dependence of culture and nature. It also states a resolve to remember, as the poet declares in the title poem of the collection:

I will not lose Africa.


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