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  • Kristin Kowalski Ferragut

So Much More: A Review of Surfaces Edges & Openings by Joanne Van Wie

From “Untouched”:


“ ...if I could, I would write

forever about her, the girl without even

one scar, but truly, there is so much more

to say about us.”


Joanne Van Wie bears witness to the “so much more” in the thirty other poems in her chapbook, Surfaces Edges & Openings. Her poems attentively unfold profound matters of the heart and small moments, exposing that there aren’t really any small moments if we’re paying attention. Joanne adopts powerful poetic icons with fresh perspective, making them her own, while relatable to the reader. She uses images of trees, the sea, shade, things in flight -- bees, birds, butterflies, which for me might read as a list of “A Few of My Favorite Things.” Needless to say, I love her work!


Reading Joanne’s poetry feels to me like writing; like I’m forced to dig deep and open myself up to vulnerability, insights, facing ugly truths, as well as beauty. I’ve been carrying Surfaces Edges & Openings around for weeks, pulling it out when waiting at my kids’ appointments, or at a coffeehouse, or quiet moments at home. Although some of the time I have not had it with me since it’s become one of my three favorite books to lend out. I simply want all of my friends who like poetry to be able to enjoy these wonderful words. And I imagine that even my friends who don’t yet love poetry could open up to Joanne’s work.


I cannot settle on a favorite poem, but choose three. “The way sand forgives,” is relatively short and wonderful, weaving grace with misfortune and hope with regret. “She spoke of spending time/at an Indonesian island prison/where the inmates wrote poetry/in the sand with reeds...” It just builds beautifully from there. Another one I frequently revisit is “Nights.” It is one of those incredible poems in which no line, or group of lines, stand out as more notable than the others and to dissect it would make it less than it is as a whole. So I offer no quotes, but it leaves me with a sense of the promises of love and a new day with a nod to the limits of both in a thoughtful nostalgic way. In my mind I can hear Joanne read my other favorite, “Crab apple.” I heard her read this at the open mic at Words Out Loud back when it was held at the Artist and Makers Studio in Rockville Md., perhaps February of 2018. A few months later I was able to catch up with her again to tell her how much I loved it. Now when I read it, I hear her expressions and inflections and it illuminates the printed word even more. I urge you to check her out if you ever have a chance to hear her read. She presents as well as writes beautifully.


“...you would say I was too high

dangling just under the top limbs,

but you didn’t mean it.


You meant that I was brave…”


You can purchase “Surfaces Edges & Openings” by contacting Cliff Lynn, the gifted poet and co-host of Evil Grin Reading series in Annapolis at Lessonsinhay@yahoo.com

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