Praise for Before There Was Before
“Let’s take a stab at the dark,” says Wendy Drexler in her title poem, a meditation on the beginning of the universe from its terrifyingly vast empty spaces to its first life-sparks. Ignited by the intensity of her gaze, those sparks flare into visions of our world—civilizations past and present, flora and fauna both rare and common, and moments of sorrow alongside moments of grateful plenitude. With a remarkable sureness of touch that comes from knowing the contours of words, she renders what being is.
—Jennifer Barber, editor of Salamander; Works on Paper
This is all good stuff. Serious, playful, reverential, staccato, elegiac, timely, historical— and deeply personal—and all of it written in dark, light, and color.
—John Hanson Mitchell, An Eden of Sorts: A Natural History of My Feral Garden
Wendy Drexler’s Before There Was Before is that rare book that both ranges far, into the worlds of science, nature, and art, and moves in close, examining her own particular human experience. Drexler takes us back in time to the Big Bang and projects us 7.5 billion years into the future. She thinks about birds and elephants, flies, beetles, crickets, chameleons. She imagines Monet and Cézanne, she listens to Schubert, looks closely at film, sculpture, paintings, and photographs. The pressure of time and the consolations of intimacy, which animate these poems, carry over into the more personal poems, threading the wider vision to the tighter one. Relying always on carefully observed and imagined particulars, she parries the pressure of time with an insistence on living attentively, and we are all the better for it.
—Wendy Mnookin, Dinner with Emerson