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VIEW FROM THE OTHER SIDE REVIEW

“What’s impossible is keeping silent”

VIEW FROM THE OTHER SIDE REVIEW
by Julia McDaniel
Zell Postgraduate Fellow in Creative Writing, 2021 Hopwood Graduate Poetry Award winner

“What’s impossible is keeping silent,” Betsy Snider writes in the opening poem of her latest book, View From the Other Side. The poems that follow question, push against, reclaim, and hold the heaviness of silence, though silence is never approached with too-easy dichotomies. For the speaker in these poems, a lesbian ex-nun reckoning with her identity and changing relationship with God and the world around her, silence has been both oppressive and divine, a source of isolation and of comfort and contemplation. Snider beautifully captures a complex and non-linear narrative of a woman finding her voice and ultimately rebuilding her relationship with silence. This is a speaker who must sometimes rely on, or find sustenance from, the whispers: her mother’s voice in a dream, a wished-for lullaby, shadows that can “whisper us home.” At other times, the speaker “sing[s] the dawn awake.” Only after the reckoning that Snider captures with vivid imagery and unmistakable authenticity can we witness as “Silence spreads its wings” and the speaker bravely “dive[s] into the center / where nothing holds.” This is a collection that deserves careful attention—to the whispers and the shouts and all the silences in between.

View From the Other Side came out in November 2020, published by Blue Light Press. You can find the book at Literati or your local independent bookstore. We hope you will join us in celebrating 1975 CEW+ Scholar Betsy Snider.