Review of Without Home: Home News Tribune
Review by Charles Johnson
Home News Tribune: New York / Sunday, September 8, 2002
Excerpt from "Poets: Sing us a song of New Jersey"
New Jersey has always nurtured poets — from “poet of the revolution” Philip Freneau (1752-1832) to contemporary Pulitzer prize-winning South Jersey professor Stephen Dunn.
The state’s poets have been published by big and small presses or by themselves as were Walt Whitman and William Carlos Williams. But it has been the release of their poetry into the public consciousness that has mattered most. Here are three New Jersey poets with their own individual songs to sing.
… In Without Home, Therése Halscheid takes the reader not only on a journey to distant lands but to emotions that expand our person and perspective. From “Ascending Mount Tarawera" (Ngnongotaha, New Zealand):
Everything outside of myself
cannot be trusted —
the white scene
first snow fallen in years,
the image of our guide
driven by surprise
while steering the jeep
over unforgiving land
where lava flowed,
between tea trees
and herbs he is naming.
Halscheid’s poetry is about the identities associated with places. Her work can be about foreign locales: Australia, Denmark, Wales, Germany and Russia. And it can appear conservatively built onto the page in columnar free verse or as a prose poem, as in “At the Water Lily Water Hole” where she observes while on a truck tour in the Australian outback: “I am silent again. Watching the images. How shadows live on. Unscarred, even after being run over.”
At other times, Halscheid allows her poems to travel across the page in staggered, indented lines. But it isn’t the presentation that’s important. It’s the poetry that breathes even when offered outside its idiosyncratic construction.
A Pushcart Prize nominee, Halscheid is a creative writing teacher and a writer-in-residence for the New Jersey State Council on the Arts.