A masterful new collection by award-winning poet Russell Thornton.
In “Greek Fire,” one of the poems in Russell Thornton’s astonishing new collection, the central image is of fire burning through water: “water is a bridge / for a fire to come into the world.” This image also illuminates the driving force that animates the poems in Answer to Blue. The stillness and quiet depth characteristic of Thornton’s poetry are here shot through with an irresistible vitality, a flame of mythic resonance.
The past, both ancient and recent, exerts a gravitational pull throughout the collection, with Greek myths, family histories and biblical passages unearthed and examined, forgotten and returned to, giving way in a cyclical rhythm to the transient presence of young children and the death of a parent. With a clarity that pierces through the mist of daily routine, Thornton gives attention to transitional states, pausing at the often rushed-through moments of change, and also examines the phenomenon of perception itself.
This collection’s response to D.H. Lawrence’s question—“Oh what in you can answer to this blueness?”—is both an answer and a challenge, an achievement of beauty that contains the seed of something more enduring and sacred.