This "red, still-beating gift," Sin Eater by William Reichard, is neither his heart, nor his treatise on the soul, but something else entirely. If I were pressed, I would say it is a certainty, the edges of which he feels, and the whole of which, unbroken, he makes motion to convey. A certainty of what? It is a spirit that, as he says, travels by your side, by turns good and evil, the bad "worn thin as bird's bones, the good so filled with all they cannot say that they threaten to burst at the first gentle gesture a human hand might make."
This Brightness is as radiant as it is precise, rare not only in the generosity of its attentions, its resourcefulness in illuminating the strangely familiar, the domestic otherness of the near at hand, but also in its addiction to joy, even at its most heartbreaking, its affectionate take on a realm rendered with such economy, such grace, that it risks the most unabashed engagements without relaxing into the sentimental. However gripping or quiet the transformation, there is maturity of sensibility here, neither restrictive nor ostentatious, impoverished nor decadent, aloof not brash. Such is the sureness of the poet's imaginative care, his verbal reverence, the power of the personal clarified by modesty. A deeply restorative book.
Full of forgiveness and love, How To shows William Reichard taking on the work of the long haul - seeing clearly and then painting, steadily painting, with all of the luminous words he has at hand. I'm thankful for this poet who arranges the universe and then, in moments of tenderest compassion, willingly lets it go.
“It’s about what can be bent,” William Reichard writes in a poem called “Bonsai.” These poems, too, are about the ways we’re bent by experience: by loss and by desire, by love and difficulty. The poems in An Alchemy in the Bones are beautifully open to the “bent” in all its senses: the not-straight, the damaged, the curves the world throws us. These delicately etched lyrics are attentive to what Reichard calls “the intricacy of emotion;” it doesn’t surprise, then, that this poet has a particular gift for the love poem, for the text of tenderness, the body’s “dazzling code.”
Here William Reichard makes a splendid debut, with a volume of memories and predilections recounted in a voice always heartfelt, pensive, musical. Rare gift: he is interested in other people. The result is a poetry of generosity.
Bill Reichard belongs to the great American lyric tradition that includes Roethke and James Wright, though he writes with a contemporary edge all his own. I found An Alchemy in the Bones intensely moving from poem to poem, keen in its observations, brilliant in its language, and what is most exciting--utterly trustworthy in its emotional wisdom. “I’m making sense of the small things,” one of the gorgeous prose poems says disarmingly. But this collection marks a debut that is a very big deal indeed.