Drawing from sources as wide-ranging as Emily Dickinson, Apocalypse Now, fairy tales, and social media, Rebecca Starks’s Time Is Always Now deftly balances intelligence and pathos, resisting easy dichotomies and judgments. As these fine poems insist, the present is relentless, and we are immersed: “No, not out of time; helplessly in it.” Ours is a country of guns; ours is a “middle-aged earth” in decline—and yet, we are here, witnessing, questioning. I am grateful for Starks’s voice in the present moment, and I’m grateful to have her poems to carry with me into the future, whatever it may bring.
—Maggie Smith, author of Good Bones
Rebecca Starks writes with a sense that time can be stopped in a poem, lives suspended and drawn inward, even in the most aimless moments. There’s a wonderful clarity to Time Is Always Now, an electricity that feels bright and wild. It’s to be found in the roadsides and a robin’s “clutch,” in the retina that “registers pain,” in the sky at dusk and the “months of mud.” I greet these poems with so much enthusiasm—these poems that crave, clarify, and propose sublime ways to become refreshed in our most confused times.
—David Biespiel (from the foreword), author of Republic Café
At one point, Rebecca Starks describes a winter hike, in which she crosses “sociable mouse hops, two feet together” and passes “a squirrel’s scramble at the base of a tree,/ then the bunched landings of a mustelid bound/ from the yawn under one log to another.” Several of her wonderful book’s qualities are evidenced here. If too many poets, in their ignorance, regard nature as a mere repository of metaphor, Starks, like Frost, is both knowledgeable and uncannily accurate about it. (“Yawn” is the perfect word, say, in this passage.) Her sinuous and heavily subordinated syntax is also suggestive of a mind with great range—geographical, thematic, and prosodic—though she can also, as, for instance, in “American Flag,” move by a cunning terseness.
—Sydney Lea, author of The Music of What Happens: Lyric and Everyday Life