Lady Word of Mouth was created as an announcement site--no more and no less--to inform readers about forthcoming and new books (mostly poetry, literary fiction--including fantasy--and nonfiction.) Founded by poet/novelist/writer Marly Youmans, the site currently features writers she knows in the real world and via facebook and other faux-world places. Authors do reply to comments (here, or elsewhere at social media links.)
Reading Maryann Corbett’s wonderful new collection, Mid Evil, I was reminded of Keats’ equation of beauty with truth. Suffused and haunted by history, Corbett’s poems derive their beauty and power from their fidelity to what is true, in the poet’s life and in ours. Among the truths these impeccably crafted poems witness and affirm is the continuing presence of the past....The journey of Mid Evil—into midlife, mortality, motherhood and medieval history—is one I highly recommend.
This new collection of poems by Maryann Corbett will confirm what her fortunate readers already know: that she is a poet and translator of remarkable accomplishment, whose poems are ‘worldly’ and ‘knowing’ in the best senses of those words. They offer us the delights of their wisdom with an openhandedness for which the only possible response is gratitude.
There are poems about forces of nature, musings and cautions, aging and mortality, what it takes for us to have come this far, what it will take to go on. But many are about the mundane, the events of day to day. I think the use of meter and form makes us see things anew; they provide a structure that that confers significance on our daily preoccupations. (I'm hearing Blake: "Everything that lives is holy.") This poet sees life, in all its complexity and variety, as worthy of all the praise we can summon.
Maryann Corbett is an extraordinary poet. From “Teacup”’s delicate tracing of an object’s origin (“crushed bones are its essence”) to meditations on pop culture’s appropriation of Tolkien (“the fabled rights//of bard and makar, geste and fabliau, give place to rendering and CGI”), Corbett’s poems are both historically attentive and absolutely up to date. Her unique perspective blends a feminist outlook with a scholar’s interests—Anglo-Saxon and medieval literature, or the intersections of verbal and choral music—yet a deep compassion always animates her work....
Maryann Corbett is a medievalist and a singer of sacred music, but her poetry will not settle in the rare book room or the choir loft. An imp of instability, a demon from a Germanic forest, is forever lurking at its edges. She is like the monk who goes on transcribing while the door is being battered down by Vikings. Can high culture survive in America? Corbett, in Mid Evil, confirms that it can. She confirms it not only with elegance and vivacity but with the Midwesterner’s natural aversion to affectation. Hers is a plain-speaking lyricism that, buttressed by formal dexterity, can “sing, against the winds of history,/ that even now our darkened hearts might burn.”
As soon as it arrived I read half of it, unable to stop myself, though I had other things I should have been doing.
Mid Evil starts with scholarly study and ends in a wish for religious exultation; it begins with writing and ends in song, becoming a prayer for inspiration, confidence, purpose, and grace. Whether that prayer can or will receive an answer remains, for Corbett, an open question, but she comes to a conclusion I gladly endorse....
...really a cracking good read. To say I enjoyed it is an understatement. I've waited years to come across a fellow female poet this good, in fact any poet this good!