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Frances of the Wider Field is about mothers, daughters, time, mortality—the loss of memory and meaning. Van Prooyen’s poems have clarity and ferocity, a wild imaginative grace that captures the joy and strangeness of our most intimate and familiar experiences. Frances appears part god, part curious child, part the small solitary voice inside. Van Prooyen asks “ Is a sigh a word? Is a body a word? / Is a tongue the beginning?” She tells us “Memory cannot undo the future. Frances, if I said, /tonight I thank the seven sisters, it’s really / the blue dust of God between them. Or you.” This beautiful book cracks us wide open and leaves us charged and changed.
–Sheila Black, co-editor of Beauty is a Verb and author of Iron, Ardent
One concern of Laura Van Prooyen’s marvelous, many-layered Frances of the Wider Field is the painful loss of memory, but just as urgent rises the physical action of re-membering, gathering the corporeal body back to wholeness via meditative inquiry and attentive detail: “Miss you is a street full of pecans that roll under/ my feet.” And later, “against the fog / a bright orange on a neighbors tree/ tells me where I am not.” The world we travel when visiting these pages is richly populated with peacocks and sisters, the gods of childhood and the dogs of a new town. Frances too serves a location of both memory and geography, both wider field and fellow traveler, demonstrating the myriad ways we both are and aren’t where we come from, as when “what defines me is constancy / of place, and my urge against it.” These are vivid, original, unflinching, and ultimately transformative poems.
— Jenny Browne, Texas Poet Laureate and author of Dear Stranger
“Frances is an entity toward which these poems direct questions, imagine alternate lives, and tell secrets. As such, Frances doesn’t offer answers or solutions, but she does seem to listen. She also embodies a kind of freedom-in-action that the speakers of these poems seem to wish for.”