Silt–Erica Wright’s recent chapbook from Dancing Girl Press–is a simple-looking thing. The cover is sparsely decorated, and the interior set out in the most plain and simple way possible. There’s something particularly endearing about this just-what’s-needed-and-nothing-more approach, that typifies Wright’s style, for her poems are short, sharply observed and resonant despite their clipped approach.
There are only 18 poems to be found in this slim volume, but all of them are strong additions to the whole. One of my favourties is “Night Sweats”, in which the narrator struggles with nightmares of snakes crawling into her bed. The poem ends on a sinister and yet entirely calm note: “. . . I know thunder / scares snakes inside, and look– / sky quiet as an empty gun.” This off-centre and yet beautiful imagery is to be found throughout the collection. In “My Mother’s Flirtation With Spirit Photography” Wright speaks of coyotes that “wail like infants”, and in “The Swelling of a Throat” the fall of light turns a woman’s skin into “fine ripples”. If anything, the simplicity of the language accents these striking images, framing them without overwhelming.
There is a definitely rural theme to these poems, clear examples being the titular “Silt”, “Kildee” and “Fording Calfkiller Creek”. The latter of these also demonstrates the loneliness and darkness that seems to haunt the collection, lingering just beneath the surface and arising in the slyest and subtlest of ways when you least expect. As plain and straightforward as Wright’s style may appear, her poems are not without a certain darker echo that seems rooted in the wild.
Silt is, perhaps, an ideal name for this collection. It is rich, fertile, yet also simple as the earth, and dark with it. The chapbook’s shortness means that it is something to be savoured rather than devoured, and it is highly recommended that you do.
Silt is avaliable from Dancing Girl Press, here.