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The Principle of Rapid Peering

Sylvia Legris

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Self-seeding wind

is a wind of ever-replenishing breath.

--from "The Walk, or The Principle of Rapid Peering"

The title of Sylvia Legris' melopoeic collection The Principle of Rapid Peering comes from a phrase the nineteenth-century ornithologist and field biologist Joseph Grinnell used to describe the feeding behavior of certain birds. Rather than waiting passively for food to approach them, these birds live in a continuous mode of "rapid peering." Legris explores this rich theme of active observation through a spray of poems that together form a kind of almanac or naturalist's notebook in verse. Here is "where nature converges with words," as the poet walks through prairie habitats near her home in Saskatchewan, through lawless chronologies and mellifluous strophes of strobili and solstice. Moths appear frequently, as do birds and plants and larvae, all meticulously observed and documented with an oblique sense of the pandemic marking the seasons. Elements of weather, ornithology, entomology, and anatomy feed her condensed, inflective lines, making the heart bloom and the intellect dance.