cover of book

Even the Dark
by Leslie Williams
Southern Illinois University Press, 2019
eISBN: 978-0-8093-3750-7 | Paper: 978-0-8093-3749-1
Library of Congress Classification PS3623.I5585A6 2019
Dewey Decimal Classification 811.6

 The speaker in this collection seeks an understanding of the darkness of suicide and mortal illness in the light of Christian faith. Poet Leslie Williams captures this light in tender and piercing poems that traverse a grieving world where healing is always possible but never assured: “my God can do this, but my God / might not.”

Through restless questioning, the speaker finds a balm for suffering in the divine beauty and mystery of the natural world. Seven prose poems woven into the collection deal with different aspects of a young girl’s life-threatening illness. Five additional poems wrestle with the grief of suicide and the emptiness afflicting those left behind. Other poems in the collection reflect on how to approach daily life while coping with heartbreak and express wonder about our responsibilities in a variety of roles: as parents, as neighbors, as an imagined anchoress, as children of God.

The language remains beautiful and precise throughout, whether the speaker lies “in a gully cracked / with stars” or tells herself, “It’s a handmade raft I live on.” The speaker entreats, as in Psalm 27, “teach me how to live.” Dwelling attentively in the abundance and mystery of creation, the book aims to offer a comfort and peace that might “even the dark.”

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