Deanna Pickard, in her second book within a year, Lose Them If You Can, confirms the remarkable talent and spellbinding craft which illumined her debut collection, In Dreams We Kiss Ourselves Good-bye. What moves us about her voice, with its rich texture of ethnic family superstitions woven into the stresses of contemporary life, is the tough, often unexpected way she deals with human fear and pain. Her perceptions both thrill and dismay us. Yet her enchanting ability to mix life-and-death mystery with earthiness and imagination blesses us with the consolation of delight.
The snappy title of Deanna Pickard’s second poetry collection, Lose Them If You Can, asks us to forget “them”: her deceased Polish aunts; a woman named Josephine Prejs who arrived in America scores of years ago; a father who drowned in Indian Lake. Yet these vivid characters the grit and liveliness of Pickard’s poems show that we cannot in fact “lose” such significant others in our lives as our ex-spouses, our dead forebears and friends. If her spooky finale, a journal sequence of prose poems, ends with the figure of Death as a man “sitting in the bleached limbs of the sycamore, weaving something out of grapevines,” Pickard has woven herself a many-colored sweater of remembrances we can share and bask in for years to come.
The poems of In Dreams We Kiss Ourselves Good-Bye are like fireflies pulsing mysteriously in the dark. They are luminous in their celebration of the bodyas much the source of grief as of pleasure and of the mind’s passionate and playful responses to the conditions the body imposes. The grace of these poems, their wisdom, their clarity and wit, are a delight. This is a striking debut.
—Mark Strand (on Pickard’s debut book In Dreams We Kiss Ourselves Good-Bye)
Never Say Never
She Knew Too Much
How She Arrived
The Story of Butter
Overlap of Days
To the Woman of the Burning Bed
Small Birds of Superstition
Faith or Signs
Movie Marked Indian Lake—1968
Not Letting Go
What the Birds Know
An Old Polish Lesson
The Circle of Wings
The Truth about Radiance
The Blessing of Breath
Postcards—Mad River, Greene County
Front cover and inside collages by Jud Yalkut. Author photograph on back cover by Michael Pickard.