In her second poetry collection, the author of The Poisonwood Bible and more than a dozen other New York Times bestsellers, now trains her eye on the everyday and the metaphysical and offers reflections on the practical, the spiritual, and the wild.
It’s a tonic for these pandemic times, reminding us of Robert Frost’s definition of poetry as a 'momentary stay against confusion.' Kingsolver’s poems are like that, though their clarity is less a matter of sudden revelation than the slowly ripening insight of age. The title poem, with its ironic parenthetical promise that we can learn to soar after 'ten thousand easy lessons,' sounds a winking dissent from all those how-to bestsellers that offer quick mastery of life’s essentials in a handful of effortless steps ... Kingsolver’s subversive humor, which occasionally sharpens her fiction and essays, informs her poetry, too. Her quirky sensibility often recalls Billy Collins, the former U.S. poet laureate whose puckish eye for the comically absurd is an abiding reminder that poetry needn’t always be a somber exercise ... These poems – sometimes funny, often tender, and always deeply expressed – are a worthy answer to that calling.
Trust Barbara Kingsolver to surprise you ... In these intensely political times, she delivers a gorgeous collection of poetry, How to Fly (in Ten Thousand Easy Lessons), that is the least overtly political of her 15 books. These poems unplug from TV and social media and the outrage of the moment and turn our attention to the immediate and the everlasting, human intimacy and the power and mystery of nature ... 'How to Fly' is this book’s title and also the title of its first chapter. Its short poems are often wry riffs on self-help, like the hilarious 'How to Lose That Stubborn Weight'. The title poem’s advice is both lovely and the last thing you expected.
Kingsolver writes uniform stanzas with similar line counts and breaks. All poems are punctuated. All poems are crisp ... There are no risks or experimental poems, thus all are easily understood ... The first 'How to Fly' section is the most striking because the poems are new. They are fun life lessons. Instructional poems are unusual, especially ones that teach us how to shear sheep, as analyzed previously. This collection instructs with character and charm. Kingsolver’s second poetry collection is not groundbreaking or astonishing. It is comforting. It is accessible to families and includes diverse subjects. Kingsolver grants strong attention to personal memories and historical images. She also engages nature. Everyone will find poems to enjoy.