Saskia Hamilton’s latest poetry collection, All Souls, was written before her death from cancer earlier this year at the age of 56. Broken into four lyrical sequences, her final anthology is a meditation on death and dying that reflects on the totality of her life. In the sharply written opening poem, “Faring,” she plays with that word’s double meaning—to travel and to proceed—as if daring readers to continue with her on this existential journey to reclaim the memories of her past before it is too late. Chronology is not important to Hamilton when telling her story. Instead, she tracks her time on earth through free association. In “Museum Going,” she recalls a childhood trip to a museum in Holland, where her mom grew up, which leads her to think about her family’s ties to World War II. In the titular poem, she wonders if her young son’s obsession with video games that recreate the horrors of war will help him cope when she is gone. She has found her own coping mechanism in language. By writing all this down, she is able to accept the inevitability of time. All Souls is a devastating reminder of one’s own mortality, written by a writer who has gone too soon. —Shannon Carlin
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