Whether the scene happens to be the wildebeest migration trail through the Serengetti, or a pond in Kentucky “growing every minute greener,” or a stand of saguaro in the low desert of Arizona, Sheila Sanderson’s Keeping Even conveys a strong sense of place, of being grounded on “ an actual, factual, earth.”
“Sanderson understands that you can’t get to the metaphysical without first experiencing and enduring the physical,” says Alexander Long, author of Light Here, Light There and Still Life. “She straddles the known and unknown planes of existence buoyed by a voice that’s at once ironic and sincere, in a word, genuine. Sanderson swirls her personal myth with Biblical myth to reveal the essential, but seldom revealed, truth that they’re one and the same. Muezzins and hobos exist side-by-side in Sanderson’s world . . . . Wherever we are, and whoever we’re with, she reminds us—no, convinces us—that “the closing argument is faith.”
To Sally Ball, authorof Annus Mirabilis, the poems in Keeping Even reveal a “reckless hopefulness.” She says, “Sheila Sanderson’s voice . . . will get in your head and stay there.”
“Sheila Sanderson writes a poetry that cuts to the bone,” says Christopher Buckley, award-winning poet and author of eighteen collections, most recently, Rolling the Bones and Modern History. She writes “a poetry committed to cherishing the elemental wonders surrounding her life. She pays close attention to nature and her appreciation is specific, fresh, and hard-won, for she is a poet who, through hands-on observation, realizes the ironies and inequities of experience. And so her vision is subtle, wry, and realistic.”
Keeping Even is “a brilliant book,” says K. L. Cook, author of Love Songs for the Quarantined and Last Call: “written in a wondrous blend of the vernacular and the philosophical, the poems . . .glow with radiance and wit . . . . Sanderson beautifully meditates on the epiphanies of travel, the knotty loyalties of family and home, the bewilderment of grief, and the complex gratitude for being ‘temporarily employed by the species.’”
The poems in Keeping Even call attention to the various balancing acts that living requires, to the desire to define and locate the center of gravity.
"Sheila Sanderson writes a mature and committed poetry—a poetry that cuts to the bone, a poetry committed to cherishing the elemental wonders surrounding her life. Sanderson pays close attention to nature and her appreciation is specific, fresh, and hard-won, for Sanderson is a poet who, through hands-on observation, realizes the ironies and inequities of experience. And so her vision is subtle, wry, and realistic. The experience of a Sanderson poem is always essential. Her voice is uniquely her own, and a reader will hear Biblical overlays at the edges, in her poetry's fierce music, in its gravity and concern. Sanderson commands a consistent and sophisticated syntax, and her voice, her style, support and include the contradictions of hope—which is where her poems brilliantly lead."—Christopher Buckley