“Where Bishop’s art tended to be on the threshold between the visual and the visionary, Anderson’s swerve from her great precursor adheres to the visual, and yet teases from it what can be seen as an intimation at once immanent and transcendental.”
“Doubtful Harbor charts an intrepid journey to regions as remote as Shanghai, Fiesole, the Peloponnese, an orchard in Macedonia, a silk factory in Suzhou … Watched over by the guardian spirits of Elizabeth Bishop and Virginia Woolf, Anderson writes with the passion and uncanny precision of a poet in full possession of her powers. Doubtful Harbor is a uniquely accomplished book by a uniquely talented poet. A wonderful achievement.”
In Doubtful Harbor, Idris Anderson turns wandering into art. From large landscapes to the minutest details, she seeks with each poem to convey the world more clearly, acutely, and exquisitely. As she meditates on indelible moments with intimate others, friends, and strangers, she teases from these encounters their elusive connections and disconnections. As Sherod Santos wrote when selecting the book for the Hollis Summers Poetry Prize, “These are not the journeys of a tourist, but of a wandering solitaire whose purpose is not to maintain a travelogue, but to lose herself in the otherness of her surroundings.”
Doubt is itself a driving force here, an engine of both questing and questioning. As exact as Anderson’s eye is, her poems draw energy from ambiguity as she renders interior and exterior landscapes—foreign and domestic, lovely and littered, familiar and strange.
Idris Anderson’s first book, Mrs. Ramsay’s Knee, was selected by Harold Bloom for the May Swenson Prize. Anderson has also won a Pushcart Prize and the Yeats Society of New York Poetry Prize. Her poems have appeared in AGNI, The Hudson Review, Paris Review, Southern Review, ZYZZYVA and other journals. Born and raised in Charleston, South Carolina, she has lived for more than two decades in the San Francisco Bay area.
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