The Thicket opens into intimate encounters with the more-than-human world—rivers, birds, stones—and with a “you” that is not a person, necessarily, but also not not a person: maybe God, maybe an aspect of the self, maybe neither or both. Often speaking of/to the small or overlooked (weeds by a roadside, an abandoned silo), the poems orient themselves toward edges, transitional spaces like the one where fields shift into woods. Where does one body stop? The Thicket takes an interest in becoming, one thing flowing into something else.
Excerpt from “At Cape Henlopen”
All night wind insists in the trees, its unsteady hush funneling us down into sleep under the tender shelter the oaks, even leafless, make—all night their trunks creak and sigh and speak. Speak to me—I think the word protect until its edges dissolve, inside the tent that wraps us like another, thinner skin, rocked and chastened by the wind that doesn’t cease . . .
The Thicket examines the complexities of our humanity, using nature as a tethering force. From the collection’s title, readers are introduced to the idea of “the thicket”—a word that resurfaces again and again. Jueds’ poems search through the metaphorical thickets—of loss, of time passing, of grief—with the understanding that, no matter what, we will break through the dense brush and reach the other side.
Even losing yourself momentarily in one of Jueds’ lines—and how could you not?—becomes a means of reconnecting to something inborn and reaching the wilds of real, messy, glorious living. In this way, The Thicket is a field guide worth picking up again and again.
Kasey Jueds’s second collection, The Thicket, has intersecting emotional and imagistic arcs that reward the careful reader with complex realizations that refuse closure. Two questions are skeleton keys that allow the speaker—and the reader—to unlock metaphorical gates of self-awareness: ‘Where am I?’ and ‘Where does one thing become another?’
I find . . . generosity throughout The Thicket, the poems’ power accreting through familiarity and continuity, their constant searching, working, changing and being changed, that goes on even after I close the book.
What expands inside Jueds’s new book is an irreducible reality—a sense that makes memory flicker, a knowing that underscores the distance between a word and what it calls or recalls. The Thicket swells with feelings too pure to name. It swells with what it cannot explicate, with what it cannot contain in the vessel of its exquisite phrases. And, to be clear, that is not remotely a failure. It is gorgeous.
These incisive and ruminating poems compel readers to look past the distractions of modern life, placing them among weed-ridden roadsides, in flowing rivers, and in the rustling of trees. Through these images, Jueds interrogates what it means to exist, to change, and to search for connection.
In Kasey Jueds’s gorgeous new book, The Thicket,every flower, thorn, and body of water is both archetype and fact. These rich lyrics act as doors to a transformation like sleep or like season. Jueds’s poems are like living inside a spell, a magic that is both story and circle. With her close attention to nature and stunning litanies, she enchants the natural world around us and reminds us that through all of our painful changes, ‘how long it takes to become human again.’ Read this book and let yourself be spellbound.
The reader is lead gently, generously, into The Thicket as if by hand, branches parted to show what only Kasey Jueds knows—the stories of trees, the language of the wind, and the hush of secret places long undisturbed. In these poems, Jueds attends to the natural world, reveals in rich lyricism its cadences and questions. In a chaotic, distracted world, these poems insist we pause, look, and look again.
Long after finishing The Thicket, I felt rocked inside its motion, a music made of wind and river current, blood, breath and wingbeat. In poem after poem Jueds leads us across the natural world, turned fabular by lavishly lyric detail, to passages unseen, through which deer spotted one moment vanish the next. The Thicket is a true beauty of a book, fully awake to the many spells of our existence.