This lush, sensuous book illumines a deep interior—we feel as if we’re holding a torch to the wall of a cave, seeing the beginning of the imagination itself in the outline of a primal world. The unforgettable, sometimes shocking images of Phyllis Stowell’s Einstein’s Knot refresh not only acts of perception but acts of insight, energizing the poems with intimacy and candor. Stowell is blithely companionable with the sublime. And she’s strangely affectionate to hard-won truths and to the bracing circumstances that generate them. I love this book for its strength and beauty, for its sense willingness to do difficult spiritual work and for its original sense of the pleasure of that work: “If there resides within us an enigmatic god / that changes only when we change / how change without illumination?” Poetry should always be this deep, this immediate, and this raw.
Transformations: Nearing the End of Life: Dreams and Visions
Transformations, by Phyllis Stowell, is a story of five years of analysis told from the point of view of the woman dreaming. There are many voices. She is in dialogue with an analyst, an imaged analyst, an unknown other, and herself. The dreams and visions are also voices. This is not an autobiography, although it is a life focused, confused and clarified. Not ill but knowing her years are numbered and death is nearby, she experiences an urgency both unexpected and unavoidable. Part of the pressure involves dealing with what has been left behind. She has to live through much that is unwelcome but the trade off is compelling, extraordinary illuminations that go far beyond personal issues. One dream named this work: Hello, Sacred Way.