Oral Lake

by Mary Maxwell BMC '81

Just as the lyrics of Nine Over Sixes expressed anxiety about digital invasions into private experience, the nature-oriented chants of Mary Maxwell’s Oral Lake join in protest against virtual realms. “Metrical form creates a kind of paradoxical exemption from chronological time,” writes the poet in the afterword to her new collection of “reflectively dual” lyrics: “I’ve returned to my previous book’s subject of time and measure, but here it revolves around the recollections of a man-made lake,” a real place from her post-industrial West Virginia upbringing. In Oral Lake readers will discover that increasingly rare reading experience, a poetic cycle not formed of borrowed material and found texts, but true composition in which aspiration and accomplishment find fullest expression -- “lyrics in which the personal and the historical are indissolubly combined, songs of the past and present... leaning toward a future."