[By Emily Phillips]
Marilyn Nelson Carver: A Life in Poems
Although Nelson’s collection of poems is intended to be an imaginative biography, I found myself so engaged by the text that I felt as if it were an autobiography, as if Carver and his friends and family were sitting across from me, telling me their stories. Thus, when the volume came to a close, I felt that I learned from Carver as his students once did.
In the poem entitled “Last Talk with Jim Hardwick: A ‘Found’ Poem,” Nelson writes in Carver’s voice that “When you get your grip/ on the last rung of the ladder/ and look over the wall/ as I am now doing,/ you don’t need their proofs:/ You see./ You know/ you will not die.” Indeed, although his physical body died on January 5, 1943, Carver’s legacy lives on, and his voice speaks to us in the pages of Nelson’s volume.
When the reader closes the back cover, he or she can enter the world reminded that “Beauty is commonplace/ as cheap as dirt.”
Marilyn Nelson's Carver: A Life in Poems, Pt. 1