Volume 12 of the May Swenson Poetry Award Series, 2008
Winner of the Pushcart Prize, 2010
"Encountering news photographs, paintings, and remembered private moments in many places, Idris Anderson's poems respond to love and grief, memories and catastrophes, beauty and suffering, by tracing visual compositions, real or imagined—blue water, green rocks, orange fire, gray smoke, yellow helmets, a white dress, mauve-pink firelight of bombed burning houses, purple figs, a black boot, and red mud, a red coat, the bright red blood of injury. In this book, insistent seeing can make damage uncomfortably appealing to our greedy eyes, and yet is also a tender homage to love and beauty."
"Idris Anderson's capacious imagination and intelligence come alive in what she calls 'the fluctuating waters of myth and history' and illuminates each moment of her resplendent and poignant collection of poems, Mrs. Ramsay's Knee. The hope or drive of these poems—and their success—is to discover, as Virginia Woolf reminds us, 'intimacy itself' and to lay claim to the knowledge that lies deep inside the landscape of our desires."
Mrs. Ramsay's Knee offers fresh and elegant poems by Idris Anderson, many of them ekphrastic considerations of visual works of art. Among her subjects are paintings by Rembrandt, Rousseau, Pollock, and Chagall, yet she equally explores a set of news photos from the 2006 war between Israel and Hezbollah.
Idris Anderson's voice is both compassionate and calm, yet she brings a vivid imaginative world to light, illuminating art and life alike. The poet has little interest in ideology, but great concern for lived experience in all its richness. This poetry is as full of feeling as intelligence, drawing the reader ever closer to that intimacy with the human condition that brings true understanding. In selecting her work to win the Swenson Poetry Award for 2008, Harold Bloom wrote, "The grave, measured poetic voice won me instantly."