by Meghan Maguire Dahn ’14
Published by Burnside Review (2022)
"An ecstatic skeptic, Meghan Maguire Dahn writes at the edges of knowledge and feeling to excavate a life out of the god-hungry, terrified, and terrifying landscape that is our contemporary moment. In poems of extraordinary vulnerability and bravery, she speaks of 'the hidden things,' of the 'abyss in the body,' in a 'state suspended by imperfect choices,' and with 'the stutter-green sorrow of our whole world.' To read Domain is to recognize such uncanny wisdom with relief and a little bit of fear, and so it is impossible not to put your faith in—to be touched by—Dahn's wondrous and bountiful perspicacity."
"Like the fabled magpie, the mind that lives inside Domain hunts for flashes of beauty and bits of intel and instruction to weave into its nest, which functions here not merely as domestic space, but nerve center, rumpus room, and outlook on the world. Drawing from alchemical texts, Christian mystics, National Geographic, medieval optics, advice from dowsers ('Take my silver thread / and feel it thrill'), visual artists, personal memory, the news, and proven habits of certain birds, bees, and flowers (to name only a handful of its sources), Dahn's collection dazzles like a multifarious textile, a soft sculpture built in and out of wonder, but also insistently, determinedly—as if the poet hopes to offset the affliction of doubt with the gift of grace such handiwork might offer her. At times as spun around as Alice ('For someone who knows / what's right, I have a lot of trouble') and, at others, as imperious as the Red Queen herself ('try to hold things soft / in the cage of your throat'), Dahn's speaker guides us through the sumptuous strange territory of her own making to deliver us back into the world we share refreshed, released anew into 'the whole blue / orchestration of sky.' This is an exemplary book of poetry."
"'What can't the ribs forgive,' asks Meghan Maguire Dahn in her arresting debut collection, Domain, and the Eden-tilled Earth is blown open. To be so acutely aware that there is no perfect environment; that the destruction breeds from the history of tradition 'an apple or an orchard of decisions,' and, at every turn, 'every flock // establishes an economy, a geometric field / of survival.' Dahn offers a logic of wilderness among the wildness of human nature. Through mystical, perceptive, and often healing linguicism, Dahn exposes the movement of ocean, satellite wave, wolf tooth, broker, lamb, branch, and bird as the alchemic tapestry of deeply felt communication. While the center is always in motion, Dahn is relentless in ensuring the periphery is not lost from the world: 'Now every last looted tooth / is returned to the museum, that lockbox / of the untouchable touched.' Dahn is a visionary of the highest order, and Domain is a magnificent work of art. 'Want is in the fall risk and I want it / in my hands.'"