Judith Kitchen's Review of Watershed in the Georgia Review
May 27, 2015
I've long admired Judith Kitchen's poetry and criticism, and I'm deeply honored that she included Watershed in the final review she wrote for the Georgia Review.
About Watershed, Kitchen writes:
The concept of “flickering” becomes a guiding principle. Thinking about Malevich’s painting of the knife-grinder, Donnelly applies his theories of movement to all of life. Everything is in motion, even the still life that can be animated, a bit like a flip-book cartoon. Even the human relationships that made Bonnard turn his wife’s head to allow her some privacy. Even the music—Casals playing Bach—where the notes “wait always / for someone to touch them again, for that / / same, not-quite-same-again flight—.” (This unexpected insight may be the best definition of “interpretation” I have ever encountered.) Later in the book, Donnelly returns to music, realizing that “scale after skeleton scale” can only approximate the “flesh” of the piece and might actually get in the way of what was heard.
Endings may be Donnelly’s strength. If so, it’s because she earns them by building an intricate edifice of reflection that leads to their surprising truths. Sometimes the “I” at the end is an accumulated personality; sometimes the “I” is introduced to underscore the fact that there is an exterior sensibility paying its own attention to the poem’s underlying meanings. To quote endings might imply her way of “wrapping up,” but really her closures confirm and reconnect. (833)