The poems in Earthlight carry the authority of a penetrating, contemplative mind and an unflinching honesty.
Stein grapples with the conundrum we all face: how do we maintain hope and experience joy when confronted with public and private horrors. Though faced with the harshness and precariousness of a brute reality, Stein listens for "improbable music," and works to find redemptive light.
The "ordinary shape of things" is rendered by this writer in language of extraordinary surprise and precision. "I could sit / spellbound, watching a harpist / unreel her audible web." she claims in "Progress Report." And in "The Country of Hope," with droll attention to detail, she gives us this scenario: "The knife-thrower holds still, aims. / The woman's outline bristles with steel. / She's been sullen with him. He's thinking / of drawing blood."
The poems serve not only as vehicles for word craft and music, but for the thought process itself: a way of thinking deeply and differently. This is lucid work -- not a sterile, academic exercise; not an intellectual parlor game. No easy answers, no pat conclusions. Wry, joyful and sensual, Stein addresses large, difficult questions and the small tantalizing nuances of daily life.
Earthlight distinguishes itself as one of the finest volumes recently published. With this accomplished book, Hannah Stein establishes herself as a writer I will be eager to read again. Earthlight is a triumph and a gift.