In Buddhism, a mudra is a symbolic gesture expressive of an inner state. To conceive of a single such gesture—the mudra—brings dramatic tension to the symbolizing act. Such a title is perfect for Kerri Sonnenberg’s intelligent and graceful examination of world and language, from the lyrical fragments of the title section—“I’ll spend some distance” and “the shapes we fail”—to the beautifully seen landscape of the collection’s final lines: “turned fields without/color was night before roads.” Both the fragment, with its suggestion of absence, and the oblique narrative, with its ghostly suggestion of a “whole,” are means of expressing, as if for the first time, worlds we thought we knew. Meister Eckhart’s phrase is “I shall again say what I have never said before.” In the richest poetry, complex occasions are evoked in few words: “a thread they trust receiving” or “instance forms a seal.” To read a poem is to watch the crossing of worlds. In The Mudra, Kerri Sonnenberg gives us worlds brilliant in their passing.
— Paul Hoover
Praise for The Mudra
The symbolic hand gestures in images of the Buddha point toward their origin in ritual dance. Sonnenberg’s poems point us to a dance of the intellect among words, words close to music and “be side reasoning.” Mesmeric.
— Rosmarie Waldrop
Kerri Sonnenberg’s genius allows her to hold charged language in a mobile, kinetic, charged tension: as alive as the world it keeps faith with. In The Mudra, boundaries blur, meanings shift, positions—and oppositions—present themselves (and vanish), other possibilities appear, “couldn’t I just as well…,” opening further negotiations between word and world, worded world and self. Emotionally, intellectually “there is ante through adjusts” as the reader activates this extraordinary, finely balanced and absolutely thrilling book.
— Laura Mullen