Poetry. As its title suggests, the poems in Hilary Sallick's ASKING THE FORM raise questions about and through form: If I place my trust in form, where will it take me and how can its meaning grow? What connections can I discover by asking the form? A milkweed pod, the human body, time itself are all subjects and forms under consideration, and the poems experiment with the sonnet, villanelle, pantoum, and other traditional forms as well. The collection ranges widely in theme, from children and relationships to art and nature; and in setting, from small interiors to large vistas, from New England to Texas. The voice that arises through these poems, at times intimate, at times cool, is distinct.
"With a watercolorist's perception of how the eye sees and a musician's feel for the shape of sound, Hilary Sallick pulls the reader in close in ASKING THE FORM. The poems unfold quietly, unerringly, through the accumulation of subtle observation and depth of insight. In 'Watercolor at Long Pond,' she writes that 'The coming and going the here / and not here intertwine,' and her ability to capture flux is an essential part of her gift. She trusts the reader to journey with her, to contemplate alongside her, and to explore with her the contours of the inner and outer, the irreplaceable moments of a life."—Jennifer Barber
"I very much admire the beauty, depth and intensity of this collection, in which Hilary Sallick takes the materials of daily life and shapes them into profound meditations on life itself. The book's first poems consider the various containers that enclose us; a later group brings us painfully close to the experiences of a dying man. The title poem, a sonnet sequence, reflects on making art in the midst of one's life, as Sallick continues to work on the sonnet, 'this sieve, with water running through,' while both grounded and interrupted by her small son's hands, 'red with cold, shaped for impatient understanding.' ASKING THE FORM's authentic questioning is only equaled by the skill and grace of its poetry."—Susan Donnelly
Hilary Sallick's ASKING THE FORM is a wise and beautiful exploration of the poet's perennial question—where to begin? The poems are like little rooms of meditation where one ponders the pointillist nature of the creative impulse-the gathering, the listing, the organizing, the chronicling that must somehow be shaped into coherence and revelation. However, as I read the poems again, I began to understand that these are also the revelation! These are the paths leading to the poem! This is the wonderful work that Sallick performs in ASKING THE FORM. The well-wrought organicism of these poems puts one in the mind of Aristotle's notion of entelechy: that there is something in an organism that knows what it must become—but at each point of its becoming it is surprised by what it is! And these poems are surprising, for they are of a writer being written—being shaped into being by her own need and urge and breath. The poems in Sallick's ASKING THE FORM, are not just sculpted scripts for the page—they are also made for the ear and the mouth! Sallick's phrasings need to be heard aloud, and are a joy to speak. And so the reader, transformed as listener, finds another form of pleasure: music."—Regie Gibson
Poet and educator Hilary Sallick lives and works in Somerville, MA, where she and her husband raised their two children. She teaches reading and writing to adult learners and serves as vice-president of the New England Poetry Club. Her longtime interest in the potential of poetry to build community and to foster deep learning grounds all her work. Her chapbook, Winter Roses, was published in 2017. ASKING THE FORM is her first full-length collection.Author City: SOMERVILLE, MA USA