View from the Other Side
I am undone, says the speaker in the first poem of Betsy Snider's lush and intimate journey View From the Other Side, and at once we are in the thrall of a remarkable energy. Snider's language is fueled by this energy, this force, defined by continual movement-probing wider, diving deeper, until nothing less than a complete metamorphosis is achieved.
Richly threaded with themes, these poems probe and prod in search of god, of self. Water as the element of transformation holds all these threads together. The section titled Ars preces-the art of prayer-stops the heart. Compressed and untitled, these lyrics recall Hopkins' praise of his god, full of fury and passion for a divinity of human dimension. But instead of Hopkins finding god in dappled things, Snider laments the time she thought god would melt on my tongue, and now muses that perhaps god tastes of ash, smoke / born on the wind.
While these poems honor and celebrate life fully lived, they also challenge the very idea of an inevitable end. In the true sense of metamorphosis, transformation by its nature continues on. She writes: The sheet is lifted over my slack face. / I dive deep into the lake, / touch the sandy bottom / and surge to the surface / aflame. Surely this is divinity in its most intense articulation.
Betsy Snider is a retired attorney who lives on a lake in rural New Hampshire with the ghosts of her many cats and dogs. When she is not swimming or hiking, she writes poetry and has volunteered as a CASA Guardian ad Litem for abused and neglected children.
She was first published in the ground-breaking anthology, Lesbian Nuns: Breaking Silence (Naiad Press, 1985). She is a winner of the 2015 Blue Light Book Award for her book of poems, Hope is a Muscle (Blue Light Press, 2015). Her poetry has been published in a variety of journals and anthologies, most recently in The Mud Chronicles (Monadnock Writers' Group, 2018); Carrying the Branch (Glass Lyre Press, 2017); The Lesbian Body (Sinister Wisdom, Fall 2017); Amore: Love Poems (Imagination Press, 2016); Our Last Walk (University Professors Press, 2016); River of Earth and Sky: Poems for the 21st Century (Blue Light Press, 2015); Poet Showcase (Hobblebush Press, 2015); and Love Over 60: an anthology of women's poems (Mayapple Press, 2010).