“We have lost our ability to name,” Francine Marie Tolf writes:
“We say antelope, owl,
as if these words had power.
As if the names of animals hadn’t long fled
back into animals.”
Thus, Tolf lays out the major themes of her second collection of poems, Prodigal:
nature, animals, and language—plus a fourth: discoveries that occur when one of these
intricate living strands intersects with another.
Tolf doesn’t shy from the savagery humans inflict on the earth and other animals,
but instead encourages us to reflect and understand if we can. “In This Rain” and
“A Good Thing” are brief but chilling examples. Yet this collection of finely tuned
poems balances sorrow and outrage with deep joy and delight. Multilayered and intimate,
Prodigal offers hope, derived not from cheaply won sentiment but from an intensely
personal conviction welling from an imperfect and compassionate heart:
FRANCINE MARIE TOLFis the author of Rain, Lilies, Luck, her first full-length collection of poetry, and Joliet Girl, a memoir. Her poems and essays have appeared in numerous journals, including Water-Stone, Rattle, Spoon River, Poetry East, and Southern Humanities Review. She has received grants from the Minnesota State Arts Board; Barbara Deming Memorial/Money for Women; the Loft Literary Center; and the Elizabeth George Foundation. She holds an MA from Kansas State University and an MFA from the University of Minnesota.
“. . . a poet who possesses that which some literary critics would call “new eyes”—and she uses them to make observations about animals, nature, even antiquity, sometimes poking fun at herself in the manner of Charles Simic . . . particularly in the prose poems that plumb her personal life . . .” Read the Full Review by Diane M. Moore, A Word’s Worth Blog