Diana M. Raab's collection Dear Anais covers an entire, varied life, from Woodstock revels as a teenager to the travails of late middle-age. Mixed in with the biographical material are musings on writing poetry, the ups and downs of romantic love, and lists of words/phrases that give a vision of a woman's life. The closes comparison for this volume are collections by Linda Pastan or Sharon Olds, but Raab doesn't quite have the same linguistic spark. A poem like "My Father" ends "I shall forever be warmed by you" without giving a complex enough picture of the father. In some poems Raab goes for the easy description, such as "dark poems" and "happy tears," like in "Prisms of Mind." Overall, though, the accretion of detail adds up to a good novel as much as a poetry collection. She is particularly fine in relationship poems, like "Crossword," which shows how Raab came to write poetry and offers strong details about her first date with her future spouse doing crosswords. Although there are no pyrotechnics, Dear Anais is a clear-sighted and sometimes romantic picture of a life lived and experienced deeply.
To learn more about Diana Raab and her work, visit her site at www.dianaraab.com.