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Moorefield House Publishing



Review of Vievee Francis' Forest Primeval: Delving Into the Obscured World

Posted on July 24, 2017 at 9:05 PM

Vievee Francis’ Forest Primeval: Delving Into the Obscured World

Review by: Santino DallaVecchia

Vievee Francis’ third collection, Forest Primeval, immerses us in a world revealed, an undertone

beneath the day to day. It’s a poetry not just of the more common and dramatic revelation but of

revealing, of looking into the submerged forest under the cities of human interaction. In

“Another Antipastoral,” a prelude poem to the collection as a whole, Francis situates herself in

contrast with poetry witnessing the world as it is:

I have fallen from my dream

of progress: the clear cut grass, the potted and balconied tree, the lemon waxed

wood over a marbled pillar, into my own nocturne. The lullabies I had forgotten.

How could I know what slept inside?

She doesn’t explore the quotidian; she chronicles a descent into the nocturnes and lullabies that

form the wild and disremembered source of our world. In this Forest Primeval yearns not so

much for what should be as much as what it suspects the obscured world has been all along. It’s

a subtle, lyrical, and mysterious collection of poems about what’s true beneath what we take to

be fact.


Divided into six parts, Francis sets up an expansive landscape in two poems that precede the

collection as a whole. The subsequent sections quietly play off one another, undulating back and

forth between the fantastical yet grounded, and the grounded yet vaguely otherworldly. Francis

embraces the immersive and seductive power of mythic evocations; she also knows their

limitations. The awareness that a literal world overlays the world of the poems never recedes–

but likewise, it never overshadows the mysterious and fantastical associations the collection as a

whole brings to bear. It’s a precarious balance. But what else could it be? The divide between

supposed and real, between perception and fact, between a tale told and a life transcribed, is

tissue paper thin, and the brilliance of Forest Primeval is how fluidly it maintains all these

categories without succumbing to any one of them. She balances and counterbalances deftly;

where the fifth section becomes nearly apocalyptic, the sixth and final section offers small

absolutions and a fresh chance at wonder. Our expectations are constantly rearranged but never



Within this subtle template, a broad array of poems play out. From blues-inflected fairy tale

revisions to facetious but deadly serious redrafted myths to recorded experiences made strange

by a detail’s constant recurrence, the collection murmurs back and forth constantly. The

cumulative effect is a quiet shift in consciousness. The collection rejuvenates the reader’s

experience of the world, because, through Vievee Francis’ poems, we become briefly able to

glimpse into the vast meanings and possibilities inside that world. In “The Ledge,” a poem that

alternates between fairy tale revision and a narrative about a man alone in a room, she writes,

He imagines heaven

as a window that might allow one

to see what one has missed

where one might

muse upon an implication

without having to touch it

Forest Primeval offers this same opportunity: to muse upon an implication through poetry. In

each poem and section, we’re allowed to reflect in the mythic yet intimate space Vievee Francis

crafts. The world, once obscured, is revealed anew as a place of expansive possibility.


Vievee Francis. Forest Primeval. Triquarterly Books, 2016

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