The Nine Senses
In these exquisitely crafted prose poems, Melissa Kwasny examines the world around her with the quiet and profound attention of a poet at the height of her powers.
The questions that have informed much of Kwasny’s previous work—how does one have a relationship with the natural world in our time? What can we learn about being human from non-human forms of life?—find a new urgency in The Nine Senses, as image collides with image to produce a singular ecological and poetic vision, one that is often dire and surreal. “Perhaps the extra four senses contribute to the surreal in the sense that Breton defined it—as resolution of the real and the dream,” Kwasny writes in the title poem.
Thematically rich and varied, touching on mortality, temporality, and eternity, this collection puts Kwasny on the forefront of American poetry, and asks the reader: how do we tie ourselves to the world when our minds are always someplace other than where we are?
Like this book? Sign up for occasional updates
Praise and Prizes
“Morphing, fleet, intricately paced, register-stretching, comfortable in myriad modes of discourse . . . A quietly magnificent collection of prose poems that can be read as luminous, rill-fresh engagements with Sufi scholar Henry Corbin’s question: Not ‘what’ but ‘who’ is the earth?”
“These poems are exceptional for their crisp movement, their clarity, their stunningly original images, and their intimate humanity. To read them is to enter a sensibility so finely tuned that each moment of the experience is achingly real, as though time had slowed and allowed your perceptual apparatus to catch up, as though at last you had been given more life, and new eyes with which to see it. The Nine Senses is a startling and wonderful book.”
“In The Nine Senses, Melissa Kwasny follows the path of amor mundi beyond the ‘senses five,’ never parting the real from the dreamt, the dead from the living, the lost from the loved, the solitary from the communal. As with my favorite words, rooms, faces, and flowers, I feel that light is sewn up into these poems. Kwasny has written us a book of charms, in the old sense. A book to bind us to the world, and to each other.”