Brook the Divide by Rebecca A. Spears
Brook the Divide is the result of the poet’s creative meddling in the life of Vincent van Gogh. Her speaker is fascinated not only with Van Gogh’s art, but she is also enamored with him as a man, and a human. In her imaginary friendship, she discovers how difficult it can be to “brook the divide” between everyday life and the creative life.
Format: Paperback; Ebook(Amazon)
Publication Date: June 2, 2020
In Brook the Divide, the lives of Vincent van Gogh and a contemporary poet seem at times almost to merge, the poet not merely considering the past, but reaching into it, discovering in it a truly human figure, alert in art and character. I love the notion that art is a way for past lives to communicate with those in the present and future. Rebecca Spears meditates on this here with grace, intelligence, and terrific skill, as the figure of the painter resonates with the Southwestern landscape and the mind of the poet reaches into an unusually vivid European past. This is a marvelous collection—lush, sincere, and moving.
Kevin Prufer, How He Loved Them, Churches, and others. Co-Curator,
The Unsung Masters Series
The gorgeous poems in Brook the Divide reverberate with change, following the speaker through seasons of luck and loss. Along the way, Vincent van Gogh becomes an intimate mentor for the hard joy of making. We see how artists transform the world into pieces of art that then transform us: “you ablaze in my eye / and I in yours.” Throughout, Rebecca Spears’ memorable writing invites us into looking, then lingering: “On your skin I can feel the damp, orange soil / that nourishes the wheat canvases. You smell / of sardines and tuna, silver and tin.” Her poems remind us of our need to render the world—in language, in paint, in memory—to keep it from fleeing. What a beautifully written book.
Sasha West, Failure and I Bury the Body
“I wandered purposefully in Vincent’s dreams,” Rebecca Spears writes in her poem “Defining Failure.” This phrase perfectly captures her project: she imagines a creative friendship with Van Gogh, writing alongside him as he paints. Spears’ poems rush, as artists must, to capture the moment before the light changes, to capture the exquisite challenge of inhabiting a work of art and then rejoining the real world. To read these poems is to be swirled on Van Gogh’s vivid palette of loneliness, desire, regret and fierce loyalty to his art. I emerge from them “stunned from so much color” and “dressed / in skins of light.”
Kathleen McGookey. Instructions for My Imposter
Rebecca Spears’ Brook the Divide becomes for the reader a kind of travelogue, mapping out the connections and lanes and “wafer-thin paths” between dream and waking, between the aesthetic and the commonplace, between the earth and “green-fire clouds.” Invigorating, incantatory, incandescent, these poems offer us “a way to stay in the world,” a way to be set alive by all that the world “opens onto”: rivers and Van Gogh’s paintings, blood oranges and cypress trees, church ruins and the “hot brilliant minerals” of our bodies.
William Woolfitt, Beauty Strip and Spring Up Everlasting