The Prospect unfolds as a quietly compelling Arcadian surface—of poems, of we, of one, the same—re-surface to in-surface. In the momentary infusions we have with the atmospheres that restrain us, the choice is ours to enter…but how do you not, when given a map, and when the trees are so graphically omnipotent—“to be open is to be the sky / to be open is to be what happens upon you.” In these pages, Durand is encouraging a dive into seeing, to empower indication as intelligence, a creative primacy within the feral undergrowth. To breathe evermore freely, in elegy—“when pressure, friendly or familiar, deforms.” It’s the meticulous and generous giver, who catches the given, and like a slow color opening to new hues, re-gifts her sensory phenomena to dare language its territory. To prepare the reader for awakening is to give the reader more tools—“where is my body in the green space / where is my green body?” Durand understands that we become the everything we see, and this profoundly moving collection indicates that the prospect is in the discovery, where the new form is—in us already.
An essential voice in ecopoetics, Marcella Durand is one of the most inquisitive and acutely tuned poets of her generation. From noting paw prints to the chemicals required to deliver to us a blemish-free peach, The Prospect brings us closer to seeing how capitalism devours entire ecosystems. Although Durand’s view, her prospect, is of a bridge, an artery for a subway train and rush-hour traffic, she finds common ground with John Clare, the 19th-century English poet who mourned the loss of the commons and enclosure of the countryside. Durand finds poetry too in the industrial noise and urban landscape. The Prospect is a trustworthy companion, a guide to the besieged beauty surrounding us.
What are our prospects? As answer, the poet offers “out of complicity” a series of haunting meditations on changing notions of perspective and resulting justices and injustices of perception—all tethered together by the question posed by John Clare, “how fare you now at home?” One of my favorite poets, Durand invites us to reevaluate things we “used to find beautiful” as the water rises, the bulldozer unearths skeletons of our past, and together we ask, “What is coming to fruition?”
The Prospect is 64 pages. Year 2020.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Marcella Durand’s previous books include Rays of the Shadow, Le Jardin de M. (The Garden of M.), with French translations by Olivier Brossard, Deep Eco Prè, a collaboration with Tina Darragh, AREA and Traffic & Weather, written during a residency at the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council. Her translation of Michèle Mètail’s book-length poem, Earth’s Horizons/Les Horizons du sol, was published in 2020 by Black Square Editions. She has published essays and taught workshops on the potential intersections between ecology and poetry, including “The Ecology of Poetry,” which was originally delivered as a talk at Small Press Traffic in 2002. She lives in the Lower East Side in New York City with her husband and son.
A review of Marcella Durand's The Prospect at Black Earth Institute.