"Another Anti-Pastoral," the opening poem of Forest Primeval, confesses that sometimes "words fail." With a "bleat in [her] throat," the poet identifies with the voiceless and wild things in the composed, imposed peace of the Romantic poets with whom she is in dialogue. Vievee Francis’s poems engage many of the same concerns as her poetic predecessors—faith in a secular age, the city and nature, aging, and beauty. Words certainly do not fail as Francis sets off into the wild world promised in the title. The wild here is not chaotic but rather free and finely attuned to its surroundings. The reader who joins her will emerge sensitized and changed by the enduring power of her work.
"Vievee Francis is a maker of magnificent, ferociously intelligent, deeply moving poems, but to me her poems are not just poems and this amazing book isn’t just a book. Forest Primeval is a sacred conversation with the reader, wrestling with the distressing angel for all of us, and demanding a blessing." –Patrick Donnelly
Whether following her through the landscapes in which she’s lived or the landscapes of one’s interior, Vievee Francis’s bottomless imagination continues to surprise in Forest Primeval. Who wouldn’t follow her as "her eyes scan the horizon for the promise of more," when she offers so much more here than a turn of a phrase; these poems build a world we all want to inhabit, even when times are tough, and they recall a world we’ve survived enough to celebrate in a manner that’s both dignified and primal like "eloquent tambourines" on a Sunday morning. –A. Van Jordan
The poems in Vievee Francis’ Forest Primeval are fearless, full-throated, whip-smart and can come at you from just about any angle—a Grimm's Fairy tale, a Howlin’ Wolf lyric, starlings bursting from a chest, a crow’s-eye view of Christ on the cross. Indeed, Francis examines the world omni-directionally, so that her subject (or one of them) becomes the way in which the experience of a place, and a time in life, get haunted by the past—by the places and people and stories we carry in our bodies. I trust these brave, prickly, luscious, erotic poems; they instruct me how to face the world without fear and show me how to speak and be heard. "You hear me don’t you? The waves aren’t banging the shore/ too loudly are they?" -Sebastian Matthews