Amy Holman writes about what is held captive—wild animals by humans or environmental destruction, the self by fear—and what captivates: discoveries, exposures, and mysteries.
From marine life to ultramarine pigment, the self-in-the-world to the world we can’t separate from ourselves, she writes poems that delve into the news, plumb the past, and play with refrains to catalogue absurdities, recklessness, lapis lazuli, shyness, and wonder.
"In Captive, her sharp-eyed, resplendently smart new book, Amy Holman offers us intricate insights into the diminishing rhythms of a dizzying array of species ranging from rabbits, toads, koalas, wombats and tigers to flowers to birds of every feather to a panoply of sea creatures, preeminently whales. A blue whale, in turn, can take many forms, from magnificent mammal to school art project to folded envelope. And we experience different kinds of blows: both whale exhalations and the blights we inflict and bear 'in depleting present, taking the blows' of the pandemic, along with catastrophic oil spills and plastic pollution. Meanwhile, Holman repeatedly revisits the story of a home destroyed by arson. Throughout, she teases out 'hidden links and double meaning[s]' implicit in histories, etymologies, and artistic encryptions—including not only the fascinating array of her own poetic forms but lazuli encapsulating a Medieval woman’s 'prominence above men’s signatures of the age.' In these exquisite and sobering, grave and witty, disciplined and exhilarating poems, so much of what is captured can’t be held captive. 'Awake to every moment,' this wondrous collection is an urgent paean to 'what is wild, or what needs to be.'"