“From Where the Rivers Come is a saving grace. What heaven to read a poet who finds a way to make room for it all, not just the suffering, but the joy hard won.”—Jim Moore
From Where the Rivers Come never flinches from the body’s inevitable vulnerabilities, nor from the soul’s response to the emotional collisions of living in a body. From sideshow performers, such as the “Anatomical Wonder” and “Human Pincushion,” who suffers from a congenital immunity to pain, to victims of torture and clinically depressed strangers, Solly gives us exacting portraits of human life at the most fragile and resilient extreme. He doesn’t hesitate to include his own pain: the loss of love, his mother’s death, his own medically reconfigured body.
Richard Solly, however, doesn’t limit his poetic pilgrimage to descriptions of pain; rather, he advances the ancient argument between body and soul—how one can often become a stand-in for the other. The body, Solly suggests, is not simply a container or tabernacle for the superior and distant soul. The linkage between body and soul is much more fierce and immediate, as he writes, “I gave birth to you, / bound your wings to my shoulders.” Here is a language of sung gratitude for “the wider body of the river of coffee and irretrievable losses,” including lilacs and lentils, the nurses who stop by after midnight, walks around a city lake, even the priests who read Solly his last rites, not once, but twice.
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