May 30, 2009

Review by Kristina Marie Darling

by Alessandra Lynch

LSU Press
Building 3005
8000 GSRI Road
Baton Rouge, LA 70820
ISBN 978-0-8071-3346-0
2008, 73pp., $16.95

In her second book of poems, It was a terrible cloud at twilight, Alessandra Lynch offers readers a complex understanding of childhood, in which misfortune and loss often prompt a premature transition to adulthood. Filled with barren landscapes and abandoned playgrounds, the works in this collection frequently reframe narratives like fairy tales from a mature perspective, suggesting that even the most innocent phases in one’s life can become riddled with tragedy. Eloquently conveyed through her pairing of the philosophical with the everyday, Lynch’s poetry raises fascinating questions about the place of grief in everyday life, “brooding” and “glittering” all the while.

Throughout the book, Lynch continually revisits the transition from youth to adulthood, in which she depicts a burgeoning consciousness of the possibility of loss. Frequently conveying this theme through imagery of the natural world, Lynch gracefully mirrors her speakers’ internal conflicts and realizations in descriptions of the landscapes that surround them. By situating disenchanted narrators in desolate fields and dim houses, the poems in this collection create fascinating tensions between interior and exterior, a theme that recurs as the book unfolds. These ideas are exemplified by a poem in the collection entitled “Nostalgia,” in which an adult speaker’s idealized vision of youth is conveyed through descriptions of her surroundings. Lynch writes, for example, in this poem:

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