Without a Field Guide by Nicole Robinson
Nicole Robinson’s debut collection, Without a Field Guide, combines lyric intensity with narrative sweep. This poet attends to the bare reality of trauma and its aftermath, the challenge of navigating life “without a field guide / to identify who I am or where I’m flying.” But if these poems focus on an individual healing process, they also surprise with their wide variety of subjects and tones, as with their depiction of a contemporary America marked by “reactionary blisters” as well as subtle beauties. At the center of the collection lies this poet’s unsentimental yet deeply joyful regard for the natural world that she portrays with vivid originality. Immersing herself and her reader in this ecology, Robinson ultimately returns to the human world with a new, hard-won tenderness.