Review: Tobi Cogswell's "Surface Effects in Winter Wind"

As I began reading the first few poems in Surface Effects in Winter Wind by Tobi Cogswell, I felt the casual solace one gets during a long, aimless period of time spent in a friend’s home, with walks through the cool comfort of nature in the afternoon and busy kitchens and dining room tables in the evening. Cogswell is able to give small castaway moments of home-life a sense of reassuring magic, but she isn’t a one-trick pony. This isn’t poem after poem of a mother, a wife, a lover at ease; the poet peppers the book with hints that this anywhere home tucked away in anytown America isn’t all it appears to be. Later poems highlight lascivious landlords, unhappy families, divorced waitresses, and the kind of broken love that only a deep dive into alcohol and self-inflicted, bed-ridden bouts of desolation can dissolve. Cogswell is able to balance the picturesque with the pain, and her collection tells the complex human story of searching for that balance in our workaday lives.          

By James H Duncan

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