There Are Still Woods
by Hila Ratzabi
June Road Press

"On the trip I didn’t take to the Arctic Circle
I was eaten by a polar bear."

Gentle yet haunting, this collection takes readers through a world damaged by climate change and on the verge of an irreversible, dystopian disaster. A mourning speaker guides readers through emotional confusion and acceptance that mimic the everchanging, complex environments the speaker encounters. The narrator also expresses reverence toward nature, which "starts when the animal discovers you." Readers then find a return to Emerson-like principles that remind them of the connection they share with nature as they find themselves alone with wildlife, "considering each other / calculating a series of decisions." The book presents a stark message about how what is lost due to humanity's collective inaction has irreversible consequences: "You listen for the deer / but there are no deer."

This collection's power lies in its minimalism, carefully structured couplets, and variety of poetic forms. The images of "Earth cut in rectangles of green" and "Douglas firs poised at their outlooks" serve as gentle reminders about the treasures that nature harbors. The compilation not only focuses on the natural environment but also the body and its "cellular presence." That focus extends beyond the human body and into the animal world, conveying the message that each life is valuable and must be respected because everyone and everything is an integral part of nature. For those interested in climate change and its consequences, as well as ecopoetics, this collection is a must-read. With the critical insight of Alice Major's Welcome to the Anthropocene and a meditative tone entirely of its own, this book is sure to put poetry and climate change at the forefront of readers' attention.

RECOMMENDED by the US Review

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