Winner of the 1999 Akron Poetry Prize
Dennis Hinrichsen’s new collection of poetry, Detail from The Garden of Earthly Delights, explores those counterpulses that pull us simultaneously toward life and death. He captures the reader between those two zones where, for example, the ungoverned vegetation of a backyard on its pell-mell journey from spring to summer can coexist with a grandparent’s decaying mind, or where a parent can hold a newborn to the light and sense both the joy of singing her to sleep as well as the staining of her body and lungs by the very air she breathes.
Solace is found in these poems through acceptance and celebration of these juxtapositions and skewed anointings. These are echoes and reverberations of the ambient world, taken in and acknowledged despite the fevered dreams of violence.
From the familiar human landscapes of marriage and parenting, of backyards and spiritual drought, the poems move from a close and awe-struck observation to final acceptance and celebration of the things that mar and stain us. The multitextured aspect of Hinrichsen’s poems gives pleasure both to the reader’s ear and eye.
Detail from The Garden of Earthly Delights achieves a classical tone within an experimental shape, as the poems meander through a pulsating labyrinth of nuanced imagery. Woven through this collection of poems is an entanglement and measured release that demand a daring concentration. Consequently, an immense beauty floats up through this language to dovetail the basic realism of small details with monumental sensations flushed from life and imagination.