Even in Quiet Places combines three chapbooks and a grouping written for poetry road signs along the North Cascades Highway in Washington. Stafford wrote these poems towards the end of his life and although somewhat traditional in subject matter, there is a fresh clarity and an uncomplicated transcendence in his language. One of his predominant themes examines the intersection of the sacred and the secular. He exhorts the reader to be vigilant and to recognize the presence of the divine within the mundane. Time also plays a major role in Stafford's work. The reader is constantly reminded to hold still and converge memory with present and future. Some of the poems viscerally trigger moments from youth, one's first conscious interactions with the world. An integral message unifies all his various themes as Stafford encourages the reader to find the redemptive power of quiet and its ability to reconnect one with the sacred in nature and within ourselves.
Stafford's language is relaxed and simple. Joy and an uncomplicated recognition of the divine radiate from these poems. The reader looks up from the pages more serene and more prepared to experience the world Stafford paints ". . . When mornings and evenings/ roll along, watch how they open and close, how they/ invite you to the long party that your life is." (from "A Valley Like This")
Reviewed by eo, 4/01. Other reviews by eo.