Thursday, March 23, 2017



Imagine Renaissance by Naomi Buck Palagi
(Moria Books’ Locofo Chaps, Chicago, 2017)

To imagine is one of the hardest, most dangerous things we can do in recent months, yet Naomi Buck Palagi asks us not only to imagine, but to visualize the rebirth to come in her new chapbook entitled Imagine Renaissance.

The collection’s three poems sketch out a trinity of responses to life in these interesting times. First, the startling immediacy of ongoing life. In the collection’s first poem, “radio ii,” Palagi evokes Gary, Indiana, as a place where the promise of hot coffee and sizzling bacon permeate both the air and the airwaves in “this crapped out city where the windows are boarded up and we are all hoping Obama will still  . . . save us,” yet pulls our focus tight, to grandma coming “and feeding us all,” and brashly affirms that “anything is possible.”

Next, in “radio, news,” she brings us to the nearby countryside, a place of chipped laminate, slouching inhabitants, and doors banging shut, to demonstrate how the impossible can come true. In the darkening farm house of this poem’s imagining, doors bang shut and stick there, but a whippoorwill’s call opens the way for a the slithering, trumpeting, fluttering chaos to emerge and spread outdoors, and take its place throughout the landscape.
The scene set, Palagi moves on to “prayer,” a Twenty-third Psalm for the times.  In a refrain that is more like a mantra, the poem’s speaker repeatedly leads us in prayer, asking

 “Yea though I walk through the valley of darkness, let me not
be driven by fear. Let me consider myself, and the many
lives that have made me.”

Summing up the unlikely optimism of a morning drive in rush hour traffic and the determined dreaming that still enlivens the barren landscape of the countryside, Palagi here prays for the resolution to continue to “know the world.” A determined lover of the world, she affirms what requires commitment to see: “There is much mystery here.” In a brilliant bid to both respond and be what one responds to, she adds,  “Let me be alive and wonder.” It is a reminder of all that we must both be and do.


Sheri Reda is a professional writer, librarian, and life-cycle celebrant—and a frequent storyteller in Chicago’s live-lit community. She is also the author of the recently published locofo chapbook entitled Stubborn, about which information can be found at

1 comment:

  1. Another view is offered by M. Earl Smith in the May issue at