- Written by: Ed Southern
- Category: Book Buzz
To Drink from a Wider Bowl by Joanne Durham
To Drink from a Wider Bowl, winner of the 2021 Sinclair Poetry Prize, is a poetic celebration of every stage of life. In her debut poetry book, Joanne Durham explores perspectives and discoveries of a child, an adolescent, a woman, teacher, activist for peace and justice, mother, grandmother, and always keen observer of the world around her. Whether reflecting on the naivete of a kindergartener trying to build a bowling alley or musing on the contradiction of the term “falling” in love for something that lifts us all, Durham turns the mundane into the unexpected. These 49 poems are accessible and honest, wrought with skillful imagery and language that touches readers deeply as they are immersed in this wide bowl of human experience.
"In her luminous collection, To Drink from a Wider Bowl, Joanne Durham asserts: 'Every home/needs a map of the world.' What she has drawn for us here is nothing less than a map of how to navigate our days with honesty, grace, and a deep mindfulness that leaves nothing unnoticed. Her richly layered and musical poems bear the contours of every phase of life, and like time itself, each one 'stretches like an accordion, stores lullabies, love songs and funeral chords between its folds.' This is a beautiful, timely book you’ll want to pick up again and again. —James Crews, Poet and Editor of The Path to Kindness: Poems of Connection and Joy
"From the Russian grandmother, who grew up in a mud shack and gathered cow dung to seal her windows, to the grandson, still in the womb, who 'riffs off tangled strands of history,' Joanne Durham’s poems encompass it all–a life lived to the hilt and felt in every cell...Part of the vibrancy of her poems comes from her insistence on viewing her own life in the context of the larger world. She sweeps the reader into the arc of a life that knows both vulnerability and contentment but doesn’t doubt the future is ours to shape. A triumphant collection from a woman at the peak of her gifts." —Dannye Romine Powell, Author, In the Sunroom with Raymond Carver
"Durham is unafraid to confront hard topics, whether in her own life and relationships or in the cruelties of the broader culture. She may observe keenly, but the 'tiny range of [the] human eye' can’t match 'the expanse of the human heart.' There’s a poem near the end of the book, 'Photo Through the Glass Window…,' which encapsulates beautifully the proper balance between layers of seeing and layers of feeling. For all its 'jumbled layers of reflection,' through all its 'refracted fragments of our full and fleeting lives,' the photograph finds perfect focus in a single face, in a mother’s love for her child. I highly recommend this warm, wise, and artful book." —Derek Kannemeyer, Poet, Photographer, Author of Unsay Their Names and Mutt Spirituals