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Brave and Magnificent Nov 16, 2004
Review of The Angle of Sharpest Ascending
In this brave and magnificent book, Ingrid Wendt offers poems to challenge and comfort us as we move through difficult times. Searching for the emotional intersections of the personal and the political, Wendt explores the implications of her German ancestry and her life as an American citizen. She faces feelings of guilt and shame over what those who lived before us have done, while searching for understanding and finding ways to memorialize the ancestors as well as their victims. There is no hint of false sentiment as Wendt considers events ranging from the holocaust, to the genocide of Native American tribes, to a school shooting in her home town of Eugene, Oregon.
Wendt's mastery of formal structure makes possible an elegant architectural form within the individual poems, and in the book as a whole. Many of the poems are sculpted, letter by letter, and compliment the visual arts which accompanied them in their creation. The book is beautifully designed to make the most of this artistry.
This is a serious book, but, remarkably, it is not heavy. Rather, by looking at the world through the transforming lens of love, these carefully crafted poems serve to lift a burden we may be unaware we carry. They bring us a gift like the glass fishing float Wendt describes in her closing poem: "A gleaming ball of sun with luck we sometimes find after a storm/The way memory can surface unexpectedly, blinding and vacant of/All but joy:"