Review: Marie Ponsot’s Collected Poems

Product DetailsMarie Ponsot published her first volume of poetry in 1956. After a twenty-five-year hiatus, she returned to poetry in 1981 and continues to publish today in her nineties. Thus, her Collected Poems is substantial and difficult to summarize in a limited space. Ponsot often finds inspiration from her life. Subjects vary from the major to the mundane: from her divorce to non-vegetarian cooking, from grief at various loses to bird watching, from a friend’s birthday to burning old papers. She also seems equally at ease with both formal and less strict forms. To all of this, Ponsot brings a strong classical background, a poet’s eye for connections, a delightfully defiant sense of a woman’s place, especially as she ages, but, most of all, an exquisite command of language. Many lines are a joy to read aloud and will remain with the reader. For example, in “Pourriture Noble” or “Noble Rot,” Ponsot takes a refreshing view of aging, concluding: “Age is not / all dry rot. / It’s never too late. / Sweet is your real estate.” Marie Ponsot’s Collected Poems is a testament to a life well lived and an art well practiced.

(Reviewed for San Francisco Book Review.)