112th: Robin Becker on The Black Bear Inside Me
Becker celebrates the interconnectedness of creatures and places--never losing sight that much will turn out precarious, illusory, provisional. These poems speak, in ardent voices, about our affinities: an articulate, black bear mourns habitat loss; a frail man and failing dog become one; a scientist and her African grey parrot research language acquisition for thirty years. Ecologies interlace, as when a troubled family "sacrifices one member, / as plants surrender leaves in times of drought." Becker responds with rage and wit to corporate excess and intractable geo-politics. Love and friendship empower in wry narratives, though time "mows" down our days, though we may never escape "original cruelties." Tragedies permeating our enmeshed, global identities haunt the book: the massacre of gay youth in Orlando; the terrors facing Cambodian teenagers working fishing boats. Wise, capacious, by turns unsettling and joyous, The Black Bear Inside Me incorporates histories and losses into a luminous present.
Robin Becker received the Lambda Literary Award in Poetry for All-American Girl (Pitt, 1996) and has held fellowships from the Massachusetts Cultural Council, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Radcliffe Institute at Harvard University. Her other books in the Pitt Poetry Series include Tiger Heron, Domain of Perfect Affection, The Horse Fair, and Giacometti’s Dog. Professor Emeritus of English and Women’s Studies at Penn State University, Robin Becker serves as Poetry and Contributing Editor for The Women’s Review of Books.