The Surveyors, Mary Jo Salter, 2017

Salter, a 1976 graduate of Harvard where one of her teachers was Elizabeth Bishop, is a much honored and active poet.  Former poetry editor at The New Republic and The Atlantic, and editor of the Norton Anthology of Poetry, her latest volume is both readable and ‘Oh’ inducing.  My measure of a poet’s value is based on how many ‘Oh’ moments he/she induces in a given volume.  Such a moment may be an arresting metaphor, a superb phrase, an insight which stops me in my tracks, or some combination of those that results in beauty.  Salter’s work is full of those.  Writing about a new late-life lover, about foreign travels, about the mundane quotidian (Yield sign below her window), in fine formal forms and ‘the right words in the right order’.  For example, she obliquely refers to her divorce as ‘a single buyer lately possessed by self-possession.’  A lyrical and insightful American poet to be read now and in the future.