The natural facts of Melanie Neilson's new gathering are
plays of sound performed on stages of sometimes ruminat- ing, sometimes
eroding forms. Her poems are lush yet jostling reminders that linguistic
acts are culture's natural resource.
The poems in Melanie Neilson's Natural Facts have the detailed
nuance and exactitude of fine verbal etchings, where each "mark"
resonates with the vocabulary of attention. They are animated by a peculiarly
American tonality (like the songs of Charles Ives) in which a terse directness
flourishes over the ground of etymology, like daisies among graves.
Melanie Neilson's Natural Facts is a beautiful and scary book.
The speech of the past and of the serrated present flies out like debris
from some great explosion. Neilson presents us with dazzling conundrums:
a reader must confront the seemingly permanent gulf between self and history,
one and all. This book is made of eerie harmonies and wrenched homilies,
"natural facts" and the flotsam of Americana--a "fringe
of artifical tears."
If Skelton & Stein had a child (unlikely story) she'd be Melanie Neilson.
A book to read cover to cover. (I did. Without stopping.) The rhythms
keep you happily going (often dimeters with departures). And clarity!
Of images. Of assertions. Of observations. Of childhood looked in from.
Of natural facts.--Of Erosion finally: [clipped denuded overwritten] signifies
in crowded profusion in tiny spaces peeked into.--[How many times time
has someone lately called a book of poetry a great read?] "Natural
Facts is a great read." What a fine book!
--Jackson Mac Low