A Noise in the Garden

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Taken from Doreen Stock’s background as a memoirist and literary translator, the poems in this collection, A Noise in the Garden, turn memory into poems and history into tenderness. In a humble gesture, Stock lends her skills to the world by way of embracing and seeking this memorialization of photographs, events, and people.

The opening section shares the title of the book, and the titles thereafter refer to the central object of each section. Thoughtful and provoking, certain poems contain epigraphs pertaining to different myths and religions, such as King David and the Angel of Death. One could argue that the voice of each poem is akin to mythology, steeped in the curious tone of knowing. With the poet’s experience and practice comes a contemplative mindset and an assuredness that comes with this wisdom. The callbacks to religion and history continue with biblical imagery of wine, fish, and salmon.

Stock marries history to the present with her ekphrastic poems, the most striking being “Man, Head in Hand, Resting on the Banks of the Euphrates,” in response to a New York Times photograph by Tyler Hicks. This decision to include a response to an existing work continues the theme of this collection as a whole: sharing the beauty and breath of the world should we dare to live in its blazing present.

Alongside world histories, Stock shares personal, touching moments of her own. In “On Leaving the Academy of Science,” the reader is transported through time, from January 2015 to the next section marked 2016, with the whimsy of twilight and warmth upon seeing Stock’s living legacy: her children and grandchildren.

Into the next year, the reader is taken on travels with Stock, exploring this feeling of longing and observing places such as Germany, Argentina, and Haiti. Despite this fusion of past, fantasy, and memory, we are ever rooted in the floating present, including nods to the Black Lives Matter movement.

As the book continues, we don’t necessarily leave the reminiscence of memory and the past, but it is as though the reader catches up to Stock and where she is as we move closer to the now, especially as the sections continue through the years, exploring moments in 2017, 2018, and 2019, until we arrive in 2020. The topics remain relevant, such as touching upon a pandemic that lingers with us to this day. Stock is honest and raw, and readers should be warned to take care with the heavy topics and intense verbiage used, especially if they and their families were personally affected by COVID-19 deaths and restrictions.

Stock creates a portal through time with A Noise in the Garden, and we sift through the weaving of her life and experiences throughout the book. Through these significant moments in time and history, Stock returns to what’s most important: her family, people, and us, as a whole.

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Star Count 3/5
Format Trade
Page Count 107 pages
Publisher Kelsay Books
Publish Date 12-Feb-2022
ISBN 9781639800797
Bookshop.org Buy this Book
Issue May 2022
Category Poetry & Short Stories