The Heart Hunger for Wildness by Diane Glass
reviewed by Terri Mork Speirs, Director of Community Relations
January 2021 — I am a believer that storytelling is a powerful path to hope and healing. Stories remind us that we are not alone in our joy and pain, whatever they are. I am pleased to offer thoughts on what I call a genre-bending book that blends poetry and memoir — reflections on one’s life in lyrical form. In this sleek new book of poems, author Diane Glass shares her life’s perspectives that are deeply unique to her yet universal to all of us. (For many years Diane has served instructor for the Center’s PrairieFire program.)
One of the many things I love about this slim volume is the clever ordering of chapters that clusters the poems into three themes: hunger, heart, wildness. And how the themes circle and flow within the chapters, and page to page. Her subjects range from the simple to the simply unimaginable. Her verses call us to pay attention, sometimes with proposed solutions placed cleverly in plain sight right before us. As if that’s how it works in the real world.
For example the last line on page 26 asks: “How do you want to live?”
The first line on page 27 seems to offer the perfect answer: “Curiosity.”
Ah, curiosity, what an antidote to pandemic and quarantine. But how to cultivate it when it can be hard to simply think? As one with self diagnosed covid-brain (extra short attention span), I like the white space poetry offers. I like the choices of short or shorter reads. I like the puzzle-like experience of reading out of order, and not worrying if I don’t immediately understand. I like being amazed when I do. I like that knowing that sometimes chaos can turn to order. And most times, it’s OK to just sit with the chaos.
Throughout the book, the author’s vivid imagery is at once lyrical and arresting, such as: “Take care of my plant, my stepson wrote in careful script in his suicide letter on the kitchen table of his apartment.” (p. 48) The four poems related to this line are like chapter-ettes of the full poem entitled “The Botany of Grief.” It is an exploration of suicide loss in plain words. The series of poems stunned me for both the beauty and sadness. How can there be both at the same time?
Her poems seek to make sense out of the nonsensical. Suicide. Illness. Racism. Divorce. While somehow weaving in the joy. Nature. Dancing. Wonder. New love.
You can read when you can. You can read one page. You can read ten pages. Put it by your favorite chair and pick it up a week later. You can remember that you are not alone.
Give the book to yourself, or to someone you love.
Diane Glass brings a writer’s astute attention to detail and a spiritual director’s ability to probe the depths of meaning in everyday experience in her new book of poetry, The Heart Hungers for Wildness.
From the power of soup to change the world to the land’s willingness to talk with us if we listen, her poems testify to the joy of following the heart’s wild longings.
Along the way, she shares sorrows as well—losing a stepson, facing illness, living out the pandemic. You will come to better understand your own life passages and possibilities after reading this book.
Available at Beaverdale Books in Des Moines and on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.