Sarah Rose Nordgren is the author of Best Bones, winner of the Agnes Lynch Starrett Poetry Prize. Her poems and essays appear widely in national journals such as AGNI, Ploughshares, Kenyon Review, and American Poetry Review, and she is the recipient of two winter fellowships from the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown. Nordgren is currently a doctoral candidate in poetry at the University of Cincinnati.
In Darwin’s Mother, curious beasts are excavated in archeological digs, Charles Darwin’s daughter describes the challenges of breeding pigeons, and a forest of trees shift and sigh in their sleep. With a keen sense of irony that rejects an anthropocentric worldview and an imagination both philosophical and playful, the poems in this collection are marked by a tireless curiosity about the intricate workings of life, consciousness, and humanity’s place in the universe.
Winner of the 2013 Agnes Lynch Starrett Poetry Prize
Best Bones is a house. When you walk around the rooms of the house, you overhear the desires and griefs of a family, as well as the unresolved concerns of lingering ghosts. The various voices in the house struggle against the family roles and social identities that they must wear like heavy garments—mother, father, wife, husband, sister, brother, servant, and master. All these voices crave unification; they want to join themselves into one whole sentient being, into “a mansion steering itself.”
The poems in Best Bones also explore the experience of living in a physical body, and how the natural world intersects with manmade landscapes and technologies. In it, mother has a reset button, servants blend into the furniture, and a doctor patiently oversees the pregnancy of the earth.
In these poems, the body is a working machine, a repository of childhood myth and archetype, and a window to the spiritual world. The poems strive to be visceral on the level of dream, or of a story that is half remembered and half fabricated.