Event Boundaries, April Ossmann, 2017 

Ossmann, a resident of my Vermont town, West Windsor, published her second book this year, and it is a beautiful work.   As with most poetry, she is moved to translate strong and sometimes overwhelming feelings of loss, grief, awe, and gratitude into words, but unusual among most poets, she brings those skills to her observations of the external world as well as her inner life.  Death of parents, a suicide of a brother, the breakup of a marriage and infidelity, the inexorable changes of aging and the approach of dying are not unusual topics for poems, but Ossmann brings a deft touch of word choice and poetic structure that moves those commonplace human events to the level of the extraordinary.  Flashes of insight (“oh, yes!”) greet the reader on almost every page as her alliterative and lyrical language opens our eyes and moves our spirit.  She brings the same skill and insight to her poems about nature, especially the snow, rain, spring green, running brooks, and wildlife that are the elements of Vermont’s beauty.   In all this work, there is a tension that heightens the reader’s attention, a setting of opposites that elevates the stakes.  In her poem This Blue, ostensibly about the beautiful blue sky, one stanza reads “It makes me feel too full/and unbearably empty” and it ends with “It’s too wide, too deep, too blue—/It’s too much.  It’s not enough”.  I found this use of contrasting emotions and descriptions to be one of Osmann’s most effective techniques.  It elevates the emotional and lyrical content.  It moves these poems about our world, both inner and outer, to a new level that I plan to return to again and again.