The poems in Eleanor Stanford’s third collection shimmer—not just with beauty, but like objects about to transform. With the touchstone image of the midwife leading us through these pages, the poems shift and move through struggle and comfort, magic and loss, through desire shouldered across generations and continents. What is birthed in these poems feels entirely new and necessary.
- Rachel Richardson
This marvelous collection, with its exquisite and unforgettable details -- “the submerged/ river, so clear/ that visitors walk into it/ still wearing their shoes” --moves effortlessly between Bahia, Brazil and and a “suburban twin,” between traditional cures of Bahia’s midwives -- “For toothache, prayer/ and a mango leaf” -- and the rules of Kashrut . The midwives, with their fabulous tales and descriptions – “Only one I wed in a church. A wager with God, the laughable odds” -- are the best imaginable company, as is the poems’ speaker, who offers them to us with such sharp and fine lyric focus.
- Jacqueline Osherow
The sojourner in Eleanor Stanford’s The Imaginal Marriage finds herself “[in] the middle of [her] life, / a rift.” And adrift. The feminized Dantean dark wood she travels is one of surreal contrasts—fecund jungle and various northeastern exburban landscapes; anorexia and fertility; a world “blazing [with] verbs” and stunningly aphasic. This is a brave, vulnerable, beautiful adult book about mid-life, the precarious, metamorphic “middle of the road,” fraught with “all of our mistakes” and life’s next becoming, “slipping / into whatever hands there are to receive it.”
All live wonders of the world--humans, plants and animals--are citizens of meaning in these poems. Each poem is a tesseract which reveals the intimate connections between things seemingly at great distance in time and place.
- Kazim Ali
Eleanor Stanford...gives us language, by turns synesthetic and elliptical, utterly transportive, reacquainting us with the deep mystery of our lives lived in the womb of the world, attuning us to its sweetnesses as well as its astringencies and to our great arduous task of finding one within the other.
- Gregory Djanikian
Flora, fauna, the wild and the domestic, these poems sing gorgeously "with their glowing throats / and feathered tongues.
“...these lyrics have richness galore--the texture of the world experienced in its glory and plenitude, observed and celebrated by a subtle intelligence.”
- Gregory Orr
“Wonderfully hypnotic, The Book of Sleep is a visually powerful, spiritual journey through landscapes of human and natural worlds and of lands kept hidden from clear consciousness. The language and subject matter build into a beautiful hymnal to the light we can embrace and the darkness that indelibly surrounds us.”