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Review of Restorin Prairie

  • Sun, April 28, 2024 3:44 PM
    Message # 13349274
    Lisa Lickel (Administrator)

    Restoring Prairie

    Margaret Rozga

    Poetry, 94 pp

    May 6, 2024, Cornerstone Press

    Reviewed by Lisa Lickel

    Former Wisconsin Poet Laureate Margaret Rozga invites us to join her in a poignant, sensual, visceral year writing at a prairie restoration project. In celebrating the past and present, emotion, acceptance and forgiveness, she teaches us be at home in our own company. These eighty-plus poems in five sections are a plein-air experience using nature for prompts in the appearance of a yellow jacket stopping on a page, a maple wildly flinging seeds, the perfect rendition of a sandhill crane call and onomatopoetry of others, as the author walks and sits and journals on the prairie.

    Mining every sense from the touch of ancient tree bark to the taste of yesterday’s coffee, with a nod to punctuation in “where on the prairie,” Rozga’s luscious comingling of words such as “then and then-ner…ephemeral then-ness” add a piquant melody to her lyricism in “English Sparrow.” Clever spacing and staccato rhythm controls the reader’s breath in poems like “Power.”

    Mostly prose poetry, stories shaped through imagery, some very short form observances in the delight of the moment, Restoring Prairie is also a call to action. Rozga says in her introduction, “Restoring what was lost may start small, but start all the same. On the unfarmed old railroad bed, look carefully. Find enduring prairie grass and wildflower seeds. Gather them. Plant them. Each fall more seeds. The prairie the settlers broke begins slowly to take root again.”

    Rozga’s activism shows in the second grouping of poems about protecting land, protecting memories, an ode to Robert Parris Moses, and reluctant protest not-poems; the ebb and flow of “Remembering Beauty”: a time before settlement when visitors were rare and awed by the land of prairie and river.

    Hope is one the major themes woven throughout the book; hope in renewal of the blooming prairie when the rest of life was caught up in the pandemic; hope for the future, for moving on and forgiving, and listening. Hope is in the realization that one can find a comfortable place when life changes: “I am the…person speaking…as well, the one spoken to” in “You Are Not Here,” and growth in “Field Staton in April.”

    Spend a year with the beauty of the prairie, reflecting on the seasons of emergence, growth, sleep, rebirth. Restoring Prairie is a magical journey through time and memory outside of ourselves using mindfulness (underrated), nostalgia, hope, and the music of the created.

    Reviewer Lisa Lickel writes novels, short stories, feature articles, and radio theater, and loves to encourage authors through mentoring, speaking, and leading workshops. Lisa is the current WWA Press manager and editor of Creative Wisconsin Magazine. She is also a book coach and assistant director for Novel-In-Progress Bookcamp and Writing Retreat, Inc. Lisa is an avid book reviewer and blogger, and a freelance editor. Find more at

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