The Light of the World
Elizabeth Alexander, The Light of the World: A Memoir (New York: Grand Central Publishing, 2015)
It was by chance, not by design that I ended up reading two memoirs by women who had lost their husbands suddenly and traumatically. The emotional impact of either memoir is significant. I'm not sure I would recommend that others read this and Maryhelen Snyder's No Hole in the Flame back to back, but I definitely would recommend reading both books. I got interested in Elizabeth Alexander through her poetry, but it is clear that poetry isn't her only medium. This is a rich and engaging book. It is graceful and honest and tells the significant story of affection, love, talent, art and partnership.
Loss and grief have a lot to teach us if we take time to listen carefully. Unfortunately in our death-adverse society, we often rush past death. Alexander's book invites us to sit with death and loss and grief long enough to listen to the truth that lies within about our shared humanity, our capacity to love, and the power of hope in the face of devastating circumstances.
This is a book to read with the same kind of care and careful pace as one might approach a book of poetry. Its prose will open careful readers to layer upon layer of meaning.