The Shadow Loom Poems
Author: Mary Willette Hughes
"Mary Willette Hughes’s third collection shows the poet at the height of her powers to appreciate the munificence of a long and well-lived life. Her voice is warm and wise in the knowledge that 'Every moment of light and dark is a miracle,' as Walt Whitman wrote. The poems are animated by a loving, generous, grateful sensibility. Some keen with the sharpness of loss. Hughes writes of long-married love, the husband and wife 'faithful as mountains,' and of a friend in a hospice room requesting that wilted flowers remain as 'they are teaching me to die.' Hughes’s quick and appreciative eye and nimble writing style give us images of birds, grandchildren, spring mornings, harvests, poetry therapy sessions, butterflies in the snow and things round and ripe, such as a female body. The poet has inherited a love of poetry from her mother, and she passes it along to us—lucky us. — Margaret Haase, author of Milk and Tides, winner of the Midwest Book Award for Poetry in 2009.
"Mary Willette Hughes’s poems are filled with close observation of the things that matter most in life—love, suffering, family, work, joy, and attendant sorrow. She writes with urgency and such deep clarity that she makes us see again, too."
— Mark Conway, author of Dreaming Man, Face Down
"Like a gentle wave, Mary Willette Hughes’s poems glide over the jagged rocks of grief and pain, carrying readers to a welcoming shore of healing."
— Bill Meissner, author of American Compass and winner of the Midwest Book Award for Spirits in the Grass
"In The Shadow Loom Poems Mary Hughes traces a full, generous life—the memory of her poet-mother at the end of a long day speaking her poems into the dark, young love, the sorrows and joys of a large family, the 'rich harvest years' both welcomed and resisted. These poems are personal, even intimate, but the precise, sensual language gives every reader a place to stand that is both familiar and surprisingly new. Family, friends, and an ecstatic celebration of the natural world are at the heart of this book, but Hughes faces bravely the many kinds of violence that mar our 'waning and love-tethered world.' Especially in the section titled 'Weaving Pain,' we encounter wars past and present, children in trouble, children lost, families broken. One stunning poem is a litany honoring victims of racism and violence—all happening in towns named for saints. But in The Shadow Loom Poems pain never has the last word. These poems are, in Hughes’s words, 'pilgrims of hope,' sent out into a dangerous but dearly loved world.
— Mara Faulkner, O.S.B. author of Going Blind: A Memoir, finalist for the 2010 Minnesota Book Award.