Winner of the 2004 Alberta Prize
The poems in Sasha Steensen’s splendid A Magic Book offer a feast of paradox—deceptive yet honest, funny but frightening, simple yet mysteriously complex, otherworldly yet wryly quotidian. Her sources are antiquarian archives, seventeenth-century journals, nineteenth- and twentieth-century magic acts, what has been saved and lost and saved again. Wandering the American landscape is her method for moving among materials of our checkered pastmagicians, changelings, George Washington, séances, Cotton Mather, the Davenport Brothers, W. C. Williams (Paterson), the spirit of Charles Olson. Through imaginative exorcism she brings back into our perception the experience of the invisible dead.