Owning The Not So Distant World by Grace Cavalieri

Reading Grace Cavalieri’s Owning The Not So Distant World

June 28, 2024
by : 
Natalie Canavor

Tell everyone a poem.
Make the world less lonely…

suggests Grace Cavalieri in “The Longest Story in the World.” The poem is from her new book, Owning the Not So Distant World. In reading it, I found that she proves her premise over and over again: that the best poetry connects us, to each other and the world beyond, and helps us feel less lonely.

Cavalieri writes about the everyday world and shows us how the major themes--love, loss, memory, and the mystery future—inhabit the ordinary. She tells us truths about her own life experience which may be very different from our own, but lead us to see our own lives more clearly. The words are always simple, the language so natural and transparent that we often don’t realize where she’s taking us until we finish reading the poem. Her images—concrete and unassuming—are evocative. From “Heart Mission”:

     Someday we’ll find what was never seen,
     Not by the book left open
     Or the candle burned
     The bell wrung
     But some song between us
     Where people construct memories
     Before the dream is done.

In some entries Cavalieri talks directly about poetry’s power. “Reversal” begins:

     This poem can do whatever it wants—
     It can change the past and make it new—
     It can make hollyhocks bloom again
     In my mother’s yard.

I came to this collection knowing what an extraordinary career Cavalieri has had as a poet, playwright, producer of the Poet and the Poem interview show, teacher, and ambassador for poetry. But this newest book is not a stand-on-her-laurels exercise. The poems are fresh, inventive, moving, and ready for discovery by many more readers.

Natalie Canavor

 Natalie Canavor came to poetry from a long career as a journalist, national magazine editor and corporate communicator. She has taught business writing to NYU graduate students and helped hundreds of professionals use writing to advantage. Her published books include Business Writing for Dummies and a college textbook. Energized by her poetry experience, she is currently working on a novel—and more poems that tell stories.


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