Sharon Dolin and the Music of Nature

Haim Watzman

One of my favorite poets, Sharon Dolin, has four poems up at Nextbook. The first, “Let Me Thrum (6 a.m.)” is a wonderful fresh and new version of “Nishmat Kol Hai,” the poem of nature extolling God that we read every Shabbat morning.

What makes Dolin’s work stand out for me is her exquisite ear, her ability to create a poem that would sound like music even if you did not know English, and whose sounds are intimately woven into her meaning. It’s on full display in this poem, where the early morning poet both hears and observes:

antennae’d and furred
all sing all shirr all rub and buzz
and fling their call to You
in song-light as the mist still clings

Contrast those twittering consonants with the hollow, ominouis vowels in one of my favorites, “Regret,” (not at Nextbook, but you can read it here):

Here’s another sin you’re sunk within
owl-necked looking back
to where you might have been

The set of poems on display on Nextbook take us through the day, into the evening light, when she asks:

O God
May I still see
in the violet hour

Dolin helps us see–and hear it.

Listen to Sharon Dolin discuss her new book, Burn and Dodge, and read two of her poems, on NPR.