Poetry. There is something wondrously imponderable about the title of Nancy Botkin's latest poetry collection: the next infinity. What would that be like, the something that comes after everything? After negotiating one's way through religion, through the legacy and loss of parents, through a past receding "small and dim" as the memories of scratchy songs on an AM car radio, through moments fleeting like "ice cream melting faster than we could eat it."
At another point she observes, "I'm starting to wonder if I'm in this poem / all by myself." A bit later, in the same poem, she asks "if we are keepers of our own asylum." By unpacking the experience of radical isolation in such unflinching terms, Botkins reveals how we are each our own infinity. And because we share this, we are not so alone after all. It's a lot to think about, and at times she acts as if she'd rather not: "My brain is even less inviting / when it's wild with dark birds flitting / through its spangled hallways." Perhaps less inviting to Botkin, but it is a blessing to her readers who join with those birds flitting through the hallway of her rich imagination. The final image of the book is a cosmic parlor trick, and perhaps that is all life is. And if so, these poems assure us, that's enough.
Born in Detroit, Nancy Botkin earned a BA in English from Michigan State University and a Master of Liberal Studies from Indiana University South Bend. Her first full-length poetry collection, PARTS THAT WERE ONCE WHOLE (2007), included "Poem With Light and Dark," which won the Maize First Place Poetry Prize sponsored by the Writers' Center of Indiana. Her poetry has been published in former U.S. Poet Laureate Ted Kooser's column, "American Life in Poetry." Botkin's work has been published in various journals such as Poetry, Poetry East, Laurel Review, and the American Literary Review. She is currently a senior lecturer in the English department at Indiana University South Bend, where she has been teaching since 1991. She will soon retire from teaching to devote more time to poetry, art, travel, and her grandson. Her latest book is THE NEXT INFINITY (Broadstone Books, 2019).Author City: South Bend, IN USA