The apparently domestic poems in Second Rain (poems about family, gardening, dogs, birds, and a few memorable tigers) deliver enough controlled intensity “to shake the trees all down.” A special gift of Elise Hempel’s art is to evoke and suggest passions without spelling them out; we readers get to unscramble the anagram, to find the ache—and our own corresponding ache—beneath the poised surface.
—Rachel Hadas, author of Questions in the Vestibule
[Elise Hempel’s] curiosity and insights singled her out as special, but her ability to shape her feelings into words remains what I find most unique . . . From the opening title poem on, this is a book about the often ignored, simple gifts that come to us, like “the second rain that comes/ when the first is over,” that “gentle scattering of drops” the breeze shakes down from the trees and “briefly blesses you.”
—Bruce Guernsey (from the foreword), author of From Rain: Poems, 1970–2010
From the title poem on, Elise Hempel’s Second Rain matches form with feeling, delivering insights that seem at once inevitable and necessary. Her sense of the sonnet—its grace and shape—lends quiet force to what’s remembered and observed, from a pet shop crow to memories of now-absent loved ones, mother-daughter conflicts to the ambiguities of language itself. Like the flock of geese described in one poem here, Hempel’s collection succeeds in many “different keys.”
—James Scruton, author of Thrift
Through admirably controlled and marvelously controlling language, the compressed imagery in Elise Hempel’s powerfully compact poems subtly evokes emotional responses, while the poet also smartly engages readers with an authentic and persuasive voice. Indeed, to borrow a phrase from the eighth and final line in the collection’s title poem, each piece in Second Rain “briefly blesses you.”
—Edward Byrne, author of Seeded Light