Owl of Minerva
Taking its name from the Roman goddess of wisdom and her companion bird, Owl of Minerva turns astonishingly precise attention to the physical world, scouring it for evidence of the spiritual as the poet travels through such places as Appalachia, New England, Venice, Spain, the Caribbean, and the American Midwest. Along the way, Pankey ponders mortality, religious narratives and iconography, the continued press of childhood on the present, and the simultaneous violence and beauty of the natural world.
At the book’s core are three ambitious poems titled “The Complete List of Everything,” which together offer an extended vision of American longing and connection—as well as a window into the sort of compendium of images and moments a sustained devotion to poetry can yield. “The hope was to construct // A coherent totality of meaning from odds / And ends,” Pankey writes, and so much of this book is about the difficult work of constructing meaning from the available material all around us. This book is an extraordinary example of lyric-meditative journaling—a large and profound collection by a brilliant poet writing at the height of his powers.