The poet knits each poem with such care—stitch by stitch, loop by loop, word after word into an effortless collection of quiet yet haunting music lush with texture and feeling.
In Rachel Richardson’s second collection of poems, she juxtaposes the grand quests of Ahab and Melville with the quotidian journeys of contemporary life. Hundred-Year Wave launches stories of marriage and motherhood over the currents of a nearly mythological ancestry: women and men who built their possessions out of iron and flour and whalebone and wool. If reaching back into the past is akin to plumbing a depth, then Richardson exhibits the rare abilities of craft to build, from our language, vessels light enough to travel on that element, but sturdy enough to weather the storms we are likely to find there.
CARNEGIE MELLON UNIVERSITY PRESS
Reading Hundred-Year Wave I kept thinking of that moment in Moby-Dick when Ishmael, having taken a Nantucket sleigh ride into the heart of a megapod of sperm whales, leans over the gunwales, looks down, sees “suspended in those watery vaults” mothers and newborn calves, a cetacean nursery, and notes the resemblance between the harpoon line and the umbilicus. Hundred-Year Wave is full of, makes music of, such furtive similitudes. Following a “great pulse and signal," Richardson has gone diving into the twilight zones of language and metaphor, history and story, eros and grief, motherhood and marriage, and resurfaced with poems that, one almost feels, could light lamps.
-Donovan Hohn, author of Moby-Duck
Immaculately yet organically structured, Rachel Richardson’s Hundred-Year Wave dives and sails and swims from the cosmic to the personal, accounting for the epical, sublime and tragic, and the lyrical, hymnal and elegiac. The sea is the book’s domain and the source of energy, its grief and solace; and in wave after wave of remarkable poetry bearing wit and grit and tenderness it heralds the arrival of a poet of great poise and prodigious lyrical gifts.
"I had in mind to pair Rachel Richardson’s recently released second collection Hundred-Year Wave with Linda Gregerson’s The Woman Who Died in Her Sleep long before I realized that Richardson holds an MFA from the University of Michigan, where she was taught by Gregerson herself....
Richardson’s first two books can be said to trace the natural trajectory many poets take, albeit with a rare linguistic and imaginative assurance: the first volume digs into the past, childhood, family; the second broadens its scope, situating family in contexts that shape and also transcend history, at times offering guarded hope...."
-Lisa Russ Spaar, "Second Acts: A Second Look at Second Books by Linda
Gregerson and Rachel Richardson," for the Los Angeles Review of Books
"We may ask why a female poet needs to erect an intellectual frame in order to write about domesticity. Yet the ocean is also Richardson’s birthright, and its captains and creatures illumine her musical poems.
Hundred-Year Wave takes us aboard whaling ships where sailors are “elbow-deep in the cool white/ they flayed into strips.” The whale’s rich body is always a female body, and Richardson follows the “great pulse/ and signal” of her descent...."
-Diana Whitney, for the San Francisco Chronicle (read the rest)