No Words Wasted Sale


Cincinnati Review


Moraine by Joanna Fuhrman

A Collection or a Book?

A review by Ellen Wehle

I have on my shelf half a row of poetry books whose pages are tagged with yellow stickies. These are the pages that make each worth keeping, the poems I return to. One volume has survived numerous library-donation trips on the strength of a single poem: "The snake's/ tongue, the first seducer/ black and forked . . ."

Yet surely the poet intended the entire book to be worth keeping, and tinkered endlessly to ascertain each page's place and weight within the whole. This question of "wholeness" has been much on my mind lately. The very fact that we publish our poems not just individually but in books implies relatedness, a more-than-the-sum-of-its-parts quality that demands the poems be read together. Why, then, will one volume read as a distinct entity, confident and sure, while another reads like a grab bag of bits and pieces? What makes a book a book?

Joanna Fuhrman's Moraine addresses this question up front. A moraine, says the epigraph, is a "ground covering of unsorted debris,...

Previously Reviewed by Cincinnati Review
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Moraine by Joanna Fuhrman

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