Poems by Iris Litt
27 Pages ~ 26 Poems
Publisher: Finishing Line Press (2017)
Reviewed by Karen Schwartz
Snowbird by Iris Litt is a collection of poetry that is split into sections in clear distinction of how the poet’s life is experienced in two separate states. The reader is exposed to nature meets industry through the beauty and seasonal drawbacks described as the poet goes about her days on Anna Maria Island, Florida, Greenwich Village, and Woodstock, New York. While her division of Downsouth and Upnorth guides the reader to follow Ms. Litt’s placement at any given time, it is oftentimes evident that her heart celebrates all of these places in the most gratifying way.
In “The Snowbird Returns,” she reveals,
I open my eyes/and the brown mountain stares back/and I love it all the more for enduring this winter/and I know I’m as rooted as the mountain/and I know I’m home.
And in “The Tyranny of Summer” when she cites,
I’ve called myself a tropical flower…/but, I’m Northern too/enticed by steely clouds and bare branches…
In reading Downsouth, the listener finds curious, hopeful, and insightful references that are far from grief and sombre tones, yet through touches of melancholy, Ms. Litt shares her perceptions, omitting judgment, and instead accepts her experiences for what they are.
As in “Bayou Mirror,
”Everything reflected in the Bayou is real:/the house with the barking dog/the house with the quarrelling couple/the dying tree/but reality can’t replace beauty…
In so much as Florida has an abundance to offer with “the palms, the birds and the tides,” in reading Upnorth, the audience finds reasons to fall in love with this side of the country as well. While at the beginning there is a tinge of angst as she describes snow as a reason to take stock of the “inevitable unpeace” of her life, there are far more references to pleasure and appreciation for what nature has to bring. There is a sense of calm to her writing but it is far from being bland.
As in “Message to One Wooded Acre,” Ms. Litt describes being amidst the creatures of this land in the following way,
I, having caught that storm’s eye, am my non-god’s self/more helpless and huddled than they, and/hearing no voices talking back from that forest to thunder and rain,/like them, I bow to the power of the sky.
In Downsouth, her observations speak of the Bayou, the wind, and the animals, all parts of nature, as she blends their magnificence without disturbance getting lost in their beauty. This poet is mindful of her environment, regardless of where she is placed, bringing an understanding to the moments that attract her. Readers are not surprised but rather aroused by the poet’s experience as if they were seeing it for themselves with their own eyes. In the collection, there are subtle “aha” moments which lend themselves to artists who have a knack for saving the best of the poem until last as in “The Arm,” where Ms. Litt shares,
We are part of a picture, pieces in a puzzle/notes in a rhythm. We turn, the earth turns/we sigh and sleep.
The poet is a woman enjoying life in two places, living comfortably with the recognition that both offer her a unique place in this universe with unwavering resolve. Her devotion to her roots is contagious. Her ability to relocate with minimal disruption is admirable. Snowbird is a pleasing collection of poetry that is sure to delight both for its lighthearted focus and for its geographical journey through what it’s like to experience the life of a woman who escapes the cold season even if only temporarily. Snowbird will make a wonderful addition to those seeking to expand their own personal library.