ANXIOUS MUSIC

By April Ossmann
Reviewed by Kenny Brechner

Virginia Woolf, in her memorable anti-introduction to Mrs. Dalloway, makes the following argument. “The author's mind has another peculiarity which is also hostile to introductions. It is as inhospitable to its offspring as the hen sparrow is to hers. Once the young birds can fly, fly they must; and by the time they have fluttered out of the nest the mother bird has begun to think perhaps of another brood. In the same way once a book is printed and published it ceases to be the property of the author; he commits it to the care of other people; all his attention is claimed by some new book which not only thrusts its predecessor from the next but has a way of subtly blackening its character in comparison with its own.”

Though one is ordinarily inclined to view Woolf’s proclamations on the human condition as infallible, one is inclined to question whether authors are not, in point of fact, a bit more sentimental than hen sparrows are. Truth to say, in considering local author April Ossmann’s newly published collection of poems, Anxious Music, one positively hopes they are. The reason for our hope is that Ossmann, the long time director of Farmington based, and nationally celebrated Alice James Books, has been something of a day care provider, foster parent, and tutor, to the chicks of so many other birds, that we cannot help but hope that the publication of a volume of her own verse is the source of some lingering, and well deserved pleasure.

Known in the industry as an excellent editor, we are not surprised to find Ossmann’s Anxious Music an extremely taut and well crafted volume. Known in the industry as an excellent publicist, it is not surprising that those of us who are aware of Ossmann’s yeoman work on the behalf of others find ourselves inclined to promote her work in return. Known personally as an extremely sound and delightful egg, one can’t but help wish April well with her new book. Nor is Ossmann’s likeability and depth irrelevant depth, for her poems are personal and direct. Their strength is her strength, their depth her depth, their humor her humor. Anxious Music is not so much a persona of Ossmann’s but Ossmann in person, an acquaintance anyone who enjoys good company would do well to make.

What:
Anxious Music, April Ossmann
Four Way Books, $15.95, 9781884800818

What Happens

The Stairs are there every moonless two a.m.,
Same as they are inlight. It happens
When my legs and feet know this,
while my mind seems to sleep.

My mind wants to know
how I do it, why I don’t
stop, turn on the light-
but my unwondering feet
descend calmly in darkness,
each cell with its memory of stairs
and stars-each sure of its aim and intent
to pull me as smoothly along-
unwilling, inept, and unsure.

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