Blue Water Poems by Phibby Venable
Blue Water Poems by Phibby Venable is like a gift: it
should be opened carefully, even reverently; it should be
opened when there is time to let the poems breathe.
These are not small poems, they have things to say. In a
sense, the book is a portrait of the poet herself. She
writes with wisdom, compassion, insight and depth. Her
voice is unique and rare, yet at times she evokes poets
such as Anne Morrow Lindbergh, and Walt Whitman.
Like Lindbergh, her poems are full of the oceans, the
tides, and the sands. We must meet her by the water,
under the moon, to understand her. The tides and
dunes are frequent metaphors in her poetry. She writes
in Waves: “I believe I am in love with the sea, with its one
line song of familiar crashing”.
We must also meet her in the faces of the dispossessed.
She writes with tenderness of prostitutes, the homeless,
the mentally ill, and the lonely. In The Field Bus an old
man has only “a picture that came with the frame” for
company. In Cleve, the death of a simple man is
mourned only by his dogs .Venable sees what others
pass over with discomfort or indifference. She gives
voice to the lost. This is a woman we can meet in the
clothes we are wearing, whether in the worn slippers of
a marriage that has lost its magic, or a second hand
jacket when the last paycheck was cashed two weeks
Still, Blue Water Poems is also about celebration, about
dancing and enchantment. It has delight and humor.
Rain Song on Holston is reminiscent of Whitman’s I Sing
the Body Electric-- it is full of the joy of freedom
nature, and “exclamations to the gods of river fun”. She
writes [this]… is a decade of soul belief”. (This is the
It is a good thing to read poems that have palpable
magic, poems with song and scent and timelessness.
Venable has eyes that see into the dark, but she is
dancing next to the shadows. Blue Water Poems will stay
with you; it is worth the read.
Review by Kristin Roedell