In a lyrical memoir and meditation on the nature of time and place, Elizabeth Dodd explores a variety of landscapes, reading the records left by inhabitants and by time itself. In spring in the Yucátan peninsula, she marks the equinox among the ruins of the Maya. In summer in the Orkney Islands, she considers linguistic and historic connections with Icelandic sagas. In tallgrass country in the fall, she observes bison and black-footed ferrets returning to their ancestral landscape. In winter in the canyons of the Ancestral Puebloans, she notes the standstill positions of the sun and the moon.
Ranging across continents and millennia, Dodd examines how people have inscribed the concept of time into their physical environments, through rock art, standing stones, and the alignment of buildings on the landscape.
In this collection of exquisite essays, Elizabeth Dodd explores the natural and human history of sites in the American Southwest, the caves of Southern France, the Kansas grasslands, and the forests of the Pacific Northwest. These essays consider the artistic and creative impulses of those who preceded us, making sense of the different ways in which they–and we–express our experiences of landscape in words and images.
“Elizabeth Dodd leaves no doubt that the focal point of her attention is the interface between people and geography…. With a scope expansive as the vistas of the American West she eloquently admires, Dodd shows that poetry concerned with the intricacies of the natural world can also illuminate human experience in original and compelling ways.” — Douglas Haynes, Crab Orchard Review
Elizabeth Dodd’s world stretches from the lightless cave home of the eyeless, transparent fish known as a blindcat to the imagination of painter Georgia O’Keeffe. Her closely observed images, deep understanding, and sympathy for the natural world, the rhythms of geologic time, and the seasons of the living year are linked in these poems to the vagaries of the human experience, the mysterious truths of life, and the potential of the human heart.
“In these keenly intelligent essays we follow the writer’s delving of American landscapes, where bison and tallgrass prairies, elms and elk, “foolhen” grouse and riparian flora are set forth in cherishable particularities of detail. Though trail-wise and plucky, the author shuns easy effects of self-dramatization in favor of her naturalist’s care and dear concern. Thus from start to finish, the voice is one we trust completely.”—Reg Saner, author of Reaching Keet Seel: Ruin’s Echo and the Anasazi
In Prospect, her wise collection of essays, Elizabeth Dodd widens her gaze to peer at the world through a myriad of lenses—natural history, local history, science, anthropology, philosophy, and literature. Offering cultural commentary and personal revelation, she invites the reader on a journey into the heart of life—the life of places, the life of the individual, the life of a culture. It is a journey whose map is continuously being formed out of the matter of the moment.
1992 Winner of the Elmer Holmes Bobst Award for Poetry
Like Memory, Caverns is an elegiac book, mourning losses from the personal to the planetary. Though personal in tone, these graceful, meditative poems reach insistently outward to the natural and social worlds. In fact, the self keeps disappearing, as the world as it is seen seems to replace the seer. This poetry explores the tenuousness of each individual moment while affirming a necessary–if difficult–existence of the free spirit. Elizabeth Dodd writes a remarkably musical free verse, with her eye kept focused on the tangible significant detail of natural imagery.
In The Veiled Mirror and the Woman Poet, Elizabeth Dodd explores the lives and work of four women poets of the twentieth century—H. D., Louise Bogan, Elizabeth Bishop, and Louise Gluck. Dodd argues that sexist and male-dominated cultural forces in their personal and professional lives challenged these women to find a unique mode of expression in their poetry, a practice Dodd defines as personal classicism. Dodd uses the term personal classicism to examine modern and contemporary poetry that appears torn between two major modes of poetic sensibility, the Romantic and the Classical. While the four poets she addresses exhibit a poetic sensibility that is primarily Romantic—valuing Wordsworth’s “spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings”; adopting a natural, spoken tone; and relying on personal subject matter—they have nonetheless employed masking and controlling strategies that are more nearly Classical.