You could read Christie Towers’ lush book of poems and again I heard the stars in one gulp, immersing yourself in a world of visions and wonders on your lunch break. Or you could open it at random to find your fortune, all of us "a sweet power green," and all of us "a small thing/falling piteously." Our Magic 8-Ball prayers when we feel "unworthy blameworthy/frail" may be answered by "how/beautiful your eyes so full of story" or "a sharp voice saying extend/yourself." The rich language of these poems exalts both fragmented stream of consciousness and research about the daily lives of German nuns a thousand years ago. Faith here is totally hot: "and again I heard/the stars and her voice like a hand touched me"; "from her throat down to her uncovered/hyacinth she glowed." and again I heard the stars can upend our ideas of grace, and show us what it means to tremble, "to/clasp hands to pray a body entire." Towers here embodies the voice and world of Hildegard Von Bingen, while showing that any of us, this Tuesday, may be "a place where grace may enter": "indeed many sparkling rays/a lot of stars."
I don’t know how Christie Towers did this. Ketamine? Meditation? Trepanning? Somehow she’s devised a language that goes right through the conceptual scaffolding of Hildegard’s visions and into the elemental current beneath: pure image, pure sensation. Everything is simultaneously blooming and withering, blinking in the brightness and huddling in the dark, rushing together and flying apart. Sister to sister, mind to mind. ‘Erotic’ is a tiny word for what’s going on here.
James Parker, The Atlantic
and again I heard the stars is a book of intimate meditations across time, a series of lyrical missives across distance between Hildegard and her visions sent from God, visions that framed the life of this remarkable woman both in her day and throughout history. It is a study of the power of visions as they intrude unbidden into one’s waking and dream life, forcing the question of “whose voice is in my mind?”: “a/ turbulence a great deal of thunder/spreading outward anticipated gave out/moisture a caressing rain with softness/ inestimable gathered itself together/ and again I heard and again a voice/gathered itself moved me.” Is it the divine, earthly desire, or both commingling? Through sinuous lyrical syntax that interweaves Hildegard’s own words and a 13th century manual for female anchoresses, Towers grows a nuanced investigation of the ecstatic, a burning inquiry into how the sacred can be heard in all of us, and a call to pour out thy heart like water.
Christie Towers is a poet living in Somerville, MA. She holds an MFA in poetry from the University of Massachusetts, Boston and is currently pursuing an M.Div at Boston University's School of Theology. This is her first collection.