Michael Glaser's Threshold of Light Shines
Winner of the Bright Hill Press Chapbook Prize.
A threshold marks a point of passage, from one state or condition into another, and in the palm-sized collection of new poetry by Michael Glaser, Threshold of Light is ample evidence of that poet’s passage into fullness. Published by Bright Hill Press, winner of their annual chapbook competition, these are poems which are mature without sounding dated, wise without sounding pedantic, erudite and insightful without sounding ponderous or pompous. A responsible creator, Glaser has wasted no excess breath in bringing these poems to life; each one is like a miniature painting by an old master, with a delicate beauty and a substantial heft.
As with great art, the observer – in this case the reader – is changed by their encounter with each of these twenty-one poems. Here, too, is light; light in the art of Ruskin, or with the author outside his front door fetching the paper before his family is awake, light on the Isle of Arran in the Firth of Clyde, or light in fog, or in Venice’s sunlit mornings. There is a metaphoric light as well, in doing those domestic things about the house with wife and children which have in them those elements of grace noticed by the fine eye which captures the often-overlooked connections between the real and the metaphysical worlds.
If I were still teaching, I would assign this not only to my poetry workshops but to my freshman composition classes as well. I have read this book several times already, savoring it more on each rereading. For all the collection’s accessibility, to say nothing of its brevity, it is anything but shallow – no gloss on the mundane, Threshold of Light has an inviting depth that can only leave the reader in a state of altered comprehension, and liking the experience so much so that they will wish the collection had been longer. It is not often that one encounters a single poem so good that it makes one say, “I wish I’d written that,” but here you may well find yourself saying just that after reading each poem.
Jamie Brown is the founding editor of The Broadkill Review, the founding creator of the John Milton Poetry Festival and The Dogfish Head Beer Poetry Prize. A small press provocateur, Brown's work has appeared in dozens of journals and magazines. Brown is the former book critic for the Washington Times and is a member of the National Book Critics Circle.