General Release from the Beginning of the World
Free Verse Editions
Cover Art Old on Panel by Gershom
Cover Design by David Blakesley & Chloé Brun
Stitched equally with wit, tenderness, and the grace of longing, the poems of General Release from the Beginning of the World reinvigorate the metaphysical tradition for our still-new century. Donna Spruijt-Metz riffs on the very Psalms that she also interrogates, seeking answers from a genderless, nameless deity here referred to only as YOU – answers to the question of hauntedness (“the endless repetition/of the first loss”), of what it means to be haunted by a father’s death, by a mother’s lies about that death. “[R]eel me through, catch me/on the other side/with YOUR hidden hands,” says Spruijt-Metz, addressing a deity as elusive as her father himself. These brave poems prove their own way forward to the difficult doubleness of truth: it can set you free but, first, it’ll break your heart. These impressive poems will, too.
Once, Flower made a list of last lines of Emily Dickinson poems. She thought they would make beguiling titles—that we could both work on Emily poems—exchange them with each other. Sometimes a last line inspired its poem. Sometimes a poem that was already partially written was attracted to a particular line as a title. We passed the poems back and forth so often that it was often unclear to either of us who wrote what. Returning to the Emily poems after a brief interlude, we were bewildered by how unfamiliar the pieces had become; a line I believed was mine curled like an unfurled fern leaf unto itself, a muddled melding of my and Donna’s voices (muddled, as in a mud from which eerie stems stake forth, thorned, petaled or gilled and capped) until who could be sure where one hand began and the other took over? What a delight. What a delight to lose ourselves thisway, having been led afield by the genius of Emily.
Slippery Surfaces deftly brings narrative situation and lyric song into coalescence. Spruijt-Metz’s ultimate subject is memory itself, which she movingly describes in its various guises—as lens, as veil, as mirror.
– Rick Barot
"Daughter and Mother, Amsterdam, Tram 4" alone is worth the cover price of Donna Spruijt-Metz's new collection. This series of conversation poems between a mother and daughter deftly and quietly devastates.
– Maggie Smith