Willow Room, Green Door
Deborah Keenan's new poetry collection Willow Room, Green Door includes selections from her previous books - such as Kingdoms, The Only Window that Counts and Household Wounds - in addition to her most recent work. In a collection that spans a lengthy period of time, the reader gets a lovely sense of inhabiting a changing world with the poet, of walking through time, both historical and personal. This collection contains a beautiful diversity of forms and topics. There are prose poems and verse of many shapes and styles.
Some of my favorite poems in Willow Room feature sharp, intellectual responses to fine art and varied literature full of emotion and subtle wit. Some poems, such as "Night Walk": “The last lover you had before your first marriage/called a few weeks ago./You felt the heat” start out with a simple premise, then unspool to reveal much more, from the intimate to the political to the sharply witnessed sensual details: “A car goes by and you believe the silver bike/tied to the top is a Christmas tree” that make these poems ring authentic. Her poems are often sad, but strong, and often touch on female emotion and experience. I love the lines "I have not been done in by some reckless bonsai gardener/I am not an easy species" in her poem about searching for a metaphor and identity.
For me, reading these poems was like listening to a great hip-hop artist who is able to take everything they've seen and learned in their culture and stream forth a flow that puts everything in its right place. Even if you don't recognize every proper noun, they intrigue you and begin to make sense because of the clarity of their perfect contextualization. It's a piece of literature that made me want to reach out and learn more, to pay closer attention to the world that Deborah Keenan so ably observes.