“Losse’s imagery is concrete, her place intimate and casual. She attends to every single point of place; she creates a sense of space so intimate that the reader is brought into the moment of her vision…. We are touched by the depth and resonance of emotion; she speaks a kaleidoscope of memory and grief. We wonder at the balance of beauty and loss expressed in poems that seem to see beyond the visual.
Gypsy-hands hold ancient rivers,
but some wounds won’t
pass the test of time. Some of my wounds
hurry me on, toward eternity.
Is it darker than before?
–from “(Obsolete)Mare, The April Fragment Poem”
….Losse has a gift of expressing weight which has no measure. She paints images with roots;…”
Read more in “Lonely Nest: Helen Losse’s Facing a Lonely West and Ed Madden’s Nest in review,” Best of Asheville Poetry Review, volume 21, no.1, 2014, issue 24.
Review by Leanna Stead.
“Two poems in Helen Losse’s new collection, Facing a Lonely West, stick in the mind. The playful “Poetry as Sloe Gin” offers a number of metaphors for poetry, suggesting that “Coleslaw generates some poetry upon occasion” and that “Poetry is the whole / of a schoolboy, not a select part.” The gathering of suggestions ends,
Poetry is a brown field
in autumn: all thorns, not blackberries.
Poetry is sloe gin: all blackberries, not thorns.”
Read more on Southern Literary Review February 26, 2015
Review by William Aarnes
“Losse asks questions and find answers. As she says in “Poet as a Tree Hugger”—my eyes refuse to focus—but continues—like the mystic—willingly lost/and therefore, found/in numinous wonder and unpretentious joy.
In these poems, she confronts doubt and sorrow—a cloud-formed girl/born to wrestle with rock-hard questions—and that is just what she does in this satisfying collection.”
Read more on Goodreads. May 30, 2014)
Review by Joan Colby
“Helen Losse is a poet who brings her history with her, her growing up in a midwestern ethos, her family, the gift of poems, her observations on injustice and what could heal our society. This volume reflects her experiences and memories so that we as readers live in those moments and feel as though we know her people. Her style is crisp and each line is important to the telling. Back home in Kansas: “A distant church bell chimes the hour./Sky the color of ballast/mirrors itself in rain puddles/in a gravel parking lot/near the railroad track.” She writes of rivers, home folks, scenes that draw us into her world, as she remembers “a lonely West.” Transplanted to North Carolina and her home in Winston-Salem, she has until recently been poetry editor for the Dead Mule School of Southern Literature. A Charlotte press, Main Street Rag, has done a fine job of publishing this latest offering by Helen to her growing fangroups. I could go on much longer, quoting her lines in this book, telling of her lifelong work with peace and justice issues, but you the reader must find out for yourself the songs this poet sings to us.'”
Facing a Lonely West is a book I will revisit many times over the years. It holds a prized place in my library. Helen Losse explores loss, its depth and its gifts, from many different perspectives. Her sense of place–from her childhood home in Joplin, MO, to her current home in Winston-Salem, NC–provides the reader with a richness of detail and her voice rings out with rare beauty. Just read these words: “Gypsy-hands hold ancient rivers,/but some wounds won’t/pass the test of time.Some of my wounds/hurry me on, toward eternity.”
— Book Baby
Read these exquisitely formed, deeply felt poems of remembering and you will want Ms. Losse to move and be your next door neighbor. You will want her and her lovely lovely words close by. Absent that, buy this book so that you can read her stunning, evocative poems any time you want. You may grieve a little with her; you may find yourself sighing aloud at her memories, but, isn’t that what poetry is all about?
Helen Losse’s words take me back away
Like an old hymn long unsung
Helen Losse’s images take me far away
Like a forgotten photograph in the bottom of a drawer
“Facing a Lonely West” takes my breath away
Like a sudden shock
Like a crying jag
–Robert Lee Haycock