Wendy Cleveland's poems in Blue Ford often present incisive personal anecdotes,
but even the most domestic of these, such as "Vigil" or "Evening," tend to expand into pleasingly complex visions. Others, such as "Lack of Evidence," confront head on the mysteries and threats of a wider world, though always with intimate images.
These poems take us from a child's fascination with nature and her wide-eyed observation of adults to her mellow appreciation of growing older. In Cleveland's sensitive and able hands, a car wash morphs into a revival, a Barbie Doll turns back the clock, a garden becomes a breathtaking memorial to a lost child, and a driving lesson includes a meditation on morality. Even the "Blue Ford" transcends its final fate as a "rusted hulk." The poet's precise metaphors and pitch-perfect ear make possible these sometimes magical transformations. This powerful collection reflects the poet's own rich life, but her insights on mortality, love, family, and the plenitude of wonders around her should resonate with us all.
-Ken Autrey, author of Rope Lesson
Wendy Cleveland's poems are exact. The images are at once fresh and familiar: "On tired feet I dice white potatoes, / chisel brown bruises with a paring knife. / Your faded blue apron hangs on my body / as I slice tomatoes and ribs of celery, / cut carrots, divide an onion in half / and peel away its papery skin" (from "Vigil"). Like Robert Hayden's "Those
Winter Sundays," the lyricism in these poems is subtle and exquisite, often only revealing itself when you read them aloud. With its neat stanzas and unpretentious speaker, the collection pulls you in to its world, a world where beauty is found in surprising places like "a dusty field / with canvas bases and crooked chalk lines" or "beside the barn"
where the old Ford rests "like a beached whale / her baleen grill now swallowing weeds sprouting up and around her rusted hulk." The poems are clear and deep-as enjoyable on the first read through as the fiftieth: "For years you have picked tomatoes, garlic,
onions, and fragrant basil to chop and dice and simmer in the big pot then eat alone by the window, looking out."
-Lindsay Doukopoulos, Ph.D.
Biggio Center for the Enhancement of Teaching & Learning
There are many ways to describe the poems in Wendy Cleveland's Blue Ford: warm,
insightful, beautiful, relevant. They are the work of a skilled poet who sees deeply and far and who gives us moments of life and experience that we can both share and cherish.
Love these poems.
-Jay Lamar, co-editor of The Remembered Gate