Poetry Micro-Review: Green-Wood by Allison Cobb

Allison Cobb has been celebrated for blending research and story with poetic perception and exposing political inequity to address failing issues of environmental protection.

Through insightful and juxtapositional revealing of underrepresented or buried facts, Cobb brings to us not a judgement, but an opportunity.

A braided documentary, Cobb, through her second book Green-Wood from Factory School (2010), explores the green-wood_cover cemetery’s history in an Emerson-style wander. Filigreed with the forcefulness of colonialism, the ripping of root from soil, and the torrential psyches of a nation after 9/11, Cobb examines the associative history of grief and a government’s unwillingness to let its people express it.

She writes: “But there is this fact/ Not a fact, a sense, from to find one’s way: a body in/ pain or joy”.

Cobb details the complicated story of destruction and erection. With trees like tombstones, and graves the witnessing of trees. Through ecological and etymological concerns Cobbs reminds us of that grief we have in common, and the possibility for tranquility through the natural environment we once upon a time, also had in common. Through sketches of the looming overtake of what would become the United States we delve into the beginning campaign of the mass vanishing of forests. And move through time and countries witnessing the varying destructive consequences of forcing political power over land, and power over women. We end with a meditation on wailing ,with she writes that breath-forced wail common to many cultures. She provides a call: Can you breathe out, and let it come back to you?

A 2009 New York Foundation for the Arts Fellow, Allison Cobb  is the author of Born2 from Chax Press, 2004 about her hometown of Los Alamos, New Mexico, and is said to “bring monsters out of memory and an unexpected sweetness out of the firestorms of language. Hers is the mind of poetry, driven by history and lured by love, caught in the act of the need to know.” (Susan Tichy) And “With the precision of Edward Dorn’s magnificent Gunslinger, Born2 peels away the myths of the American West to reveal the twitchy nerve beneath.” (Kevin Killian) She has received a 2011 Individual Artist Fellowship award from the Oregon Arts Commission and works for the Environmental Defense Fund.



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