Explanatory Value

Explanatory Value cover


For years we noticed streaks on the lake:
Water currents? Wind ripples? Boat wakes? 
Tide lines?! We laughed and scoffed
at each other’s explanations, challenged them
with amateur-scientist expertise.

Explanation is not always a relief.
Curiosity may kill the cat,
but thou shalt not kill the pleasure
of a dog gnawing on his bone.

Available to purchase at:
Author, Amazon

Publisher: Kelsay Books
Published: 2021

“In Explanatory Value, Florence Fogelin warns us not to “…blame the words; they oil our gears,/enable us to think and appreciate nonsense,/and are themselves our joy, our bane, and our salvation.” But if, in her extraordinary collection, Fogelin stresses words’ ultimate insufficiency, her understanding, say, of how they “delineate rocks where prayers of columbine/ appear in Spring as miracles,” it’s precisely her recognition of language’s ultimate inutility as “explanatory” that provides the volume’s undeniable poignance. Whatever she may be responding to, she dramatizes her own inevitable shortcomings in assessing it, which are the failings encountered by poets from the dawn of time, and they will arouse in her brothers and sisters (whether poets or not) a clear sense of kinship. Each of those blessed and doomed to write or even speak are both moved and admiring of her valor, and of the skill and ardor with which she manifests it.”
– Sydney Lea, Vermont Poet Laureate, 2011-15: Author of Here (Four Way Books)

A wry self-deprecating humor, pleasure in the quotidian, and unsentimental tenderness balance the fierce intelligence, metaphysical wit and philosophical testing of these elegant lyrics. Fogelin weaves explorations of privilege, lack, and new widowhood, in a time when “the world is mad; the world is melting,” and “mourning is like a trick candle;/blown out, it pops alight again.” She plumbs the value of explanation, whether it answers any of our most urgent questions with objective and enduring truth, or merely offers comfort in imagination. It seems we may as well “put the horizon where we please,” since we can never reach it, and seek “to appreciate/the beauty of every loss,” which Fogelin evokes so eloquently.
– April Ossmann: Author of Event Boundaries (Four Way Books)