Monday, May 31, 2010

Review of NAME THE GLORY by Molly Mattfield Bennett

Review of NAME THE GLORY by Molly Mattfield Bennett, Wilderness House Press, 145 Foster Street, Littleton, Massachusetts 01460, 2010, 37 pages

By Barbara Bialick

My first inclination when looking at the striking red background with a black and white photo of winter branches on the cover of Name the Glory was to well, try to name the Glory. Was it the Glory of God, of Nature, of Love? After reading the book, it seems to me it was all this and more…spiritual glory, the glory of childhood, and as she expresses throughout the book’s four parts, or seasons, “Name the glory of the seasons that circle the year.” The book includes a dozen black and white photographs, including the cover photo by Elizabeth A. Bennett.

But who or Who or what is she asking to name all the glory? That’s for the reader to decide. The book is all one grand poem with two voices—that of an adult speaker’s soliloquy on the circle of life (“Name the glory of a spring morning/and a boy and a girl/free to roam”), in counterpoint to a chorus of children’s voices making a colorful play with the ABC’s: “A is for aunties arguing with aardvarks/B is for bisons beckoning baboons…”

There’s a temptation to take you all through the poem’s seasons, but this is one long poem that just keeps getting deeper and deeper into the natural spiral. The fun is to interpret the poem as you weave through it. I urge you to read the book yourself, for it’s done with wit and wisdom that sometimes reminds one of a female Walt Whitman asking nature to explain itself.

“Name the glory of mind filling the quiet/with thought on thought/until someone breaks in with a word, a touch…” (“Out in the schoolyard the children chant/Q is for querulous Quentin who quizzed quails/R is for rabbits and raccoons rafting the water…”)

A strong stanza near the end of the book reads, “Name the power of those who have no fear/of the dark/they see what they see and know its name.” But coming in right with that is “Name the glory of words that beckon…” This book is not just about life but poetry and the power of words well used. The author, Molly Mattfield Bennett, describes herself as a poet-educator, She writes, “I have taught many young children and their teachers. With Name the Glory I have tried to write my loves into a single poem.” Bennett is a resident of Quincy, Massachusetts, along with her husband, Sheldon.

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