Priscilla Turner Spada’s chapbook, Light in Unopened Windows, is now available from Finishing Line Press. Priscilla is a long time participant in the poetry workshop I run at Emma Andrews Library; her artistic integrity and dedication has earned her the admiration of us all. What’s more, her new book sports a blurb from yours truly!
The title of Priscilla Turner Spada’s lovely elegy for the father she never met, “What I Know,” might serve as a subtitle for this collection. What she knows of her father —a soldier killed in the war before she was born— is what she can piece together from things she finds in the attic: his pea-coat, his sailor’s pack, a photo album in an trunk. All the poems gathered here result from that kind of investigation, in which the imagination becomes an organ of perception, a sixth sense, no less (and no more) reliable than sight, hearing, touch, taste or smell. Turner Spada’s imagination focuses on what is really there, looking behind picture frames to find the greasy marks on the wall “where boys with ducktails leaned their heads / while flirting with my sister;” and on what is really not-there. After her mother’s death she writes,”I’m in your space. / The air is dense/ with emptiness.” The presence of the dead is felt so deeply that in poems like “Return to Cox Cove” and especially “Window Dressing,” one has the sense of a life not ended but transformed, gifted to the one left behind. This book extends that gift to the reader.