The Discovery

Earthy and lyrical harmonies of a woman’s life on the farm

“Were you listening for an ending?” asks Laressa Dickey in the poem “A History of Land” in her arresting and radiant new collection, “Twang’’ (Backwater), and in it there’s the suggestion that there may not be one. These are poems of a place, rooted and rising out of Tennessee soil and saturated with the vivid realities of farm life, with dead cows and horse dung and “wood we’d stack as a family for the winter we’d share.” The lines reckon with endings, shiftings, beginnings, grounded in the body — “peach pie thighs”; “misaligned breasts”; a pulled tooth in a saltine cracker box — and transcending it in moments of numinous insight. Girlhood, womanhood, motherhood, old-womanhood play out against tobacco fields, tractors, chicken coops in an interplay between the earthy and the lyrical.