The poems of Robbi Nester’s third full collection, Narrow Bridge (Main Street Rag, 2019) sometimes focus in on one detail of life and sometimes widen to a panoramic vision. These poems examine and remember the world from a range of perspectives: that of an only child trying to understand her family and schoolmates, that of an adult perpetually curious about the natural world, those of various creatures and objects we don’t expect to speak. This is a book in which even tree frogs and fried eggs have voices, but the effect, while often funny, is never cute. In one of my favorite poems, “Mermaid to Woman,” a half-fish creature wistfully regards the sailors of her past and future, all of whom she drowns, “a predator in love with her prey,” with “striped teeth those of a parrot fish,/suitable for tearing flesh.” Yikes.
The book’s epigraph and title, “The world is a narrow bridge, and the main thing is not to be afraid,” come from Rabbi Nachman of Bratzlav (1772-1810), a Talmudic scholar and Hasidic reformer who believed everyone should talk directly to God. The language in these prayer-like poems is precise and musical, begging to be read out loud. The poems describe painful incidents in the speaker’s childhood which she is still struggling to understand, and they describe elements of a universe larger than any single mind can fully grasp. This poet is perpetually questing, never satisfied. The bridge may be narrow but the view is wide.
http://www.thelostbookshelf.com/. Signed copies may also be obtained from me, at firstname.lastname@example.org. During non-Pandemic times, Beyond Baroque’s bookstore, http://beyondbaroque.org/bookstorelanding.html, also carries this and my other books.
Robbi Nester is the author of four books of poetry, Balance (White Violet, 2012), A Likely Story (Moon Tide, 2014), Other-Wise (Kelsay, 2017), and Narrow Bridge (Main Street Rag, 2019), and has edited three anthologies. These are The Liberal Media Made Me Do It! (Nine Toes, 2014); Over the Moon: Birds, Beasts, and Trees; and her latest effort, The Plague Papers, a celebration of virtual museums during the time of the pandemic. She is an elected member of the Academy of American Poets and a contributing editor to Poemeleon Journal.
Penelope Moffet lives in Southern California. She is the author of a chapbook of desert poems, It Isn’t That They Mean to Kill You (Arroyo Seco Press, 2018), and a collection of chaparral poems, Keeping Still (Dorland Mountain Arts Colony, 1995).
©Robbi Nester/Penelope Moffet