The Behaviour of Clocks
At one point in Sally Ashton's new book, The Behaviour of Clocks, the speaker says, "I testify to what I saw." It is by meticulously bearing witness to events throughout the book that the speaker is able to celebrate and transcend the mutability of Time, referenced in the title. In this sense, her real and imagined travelogue hearkens back to Jean Follain's classic, A World Rich in Anniversaries, while also becoming on its own one of the most engaging books of prose poetry I've read in the last ten years.
Peter Johnson, author of Eduardo and "I"
Ashton's investigative meditations maintain constant awareness of territories shared by physics and poetry. These wonderfully reflective poems arise from something like a physicist's precision of mind and a shaman's sensitivity of vision. Wistful, fluent, and beautiful, the book launches inquiries into time, being, motion, and travel. Ashton gives us a poetry and a physics that probe powerful unseen forces. She shows us how both practices manifest as acute attention to and curiosity about the world. An expanded sense of terroir pervades these poems. This unfolds as a poetics of place not limited to wine and vineyards, but rather enlarged to address an emotional and spiritual sense of grateful, yet tenuous located-ness on our fragile planet.
Amy Gerstler, author of Scattered at Sea
Poems are magical because they operate both inside and outside of time. Sally Ashton's ambitious and marvelous The Behaviour of Clocks uses Albert Einstein's unusually poetic theories of time as points of departure to travel across and through time but also across and through various countries, concepts, and characters. Ashton brilliantly marries the narrative of prose with the lyricism of poetry to create a series of hybrid texts that echo Charles Baudelaire, Gertrude Stein, Francis Ponge, and Mary Ruefle. Ashton's poems takes us to Italy, to the past, and to the moon but also to those vast continents of the imagination where, as Ashton notes, "wherever we wander we're home." Dear Weary Traveler, I have good news. You can at last sit back and relax. Make yourself comfortable because you will not want to leave this book.
Dean Rader, author of Self-Portrait as Wikipedia Entry
In The Behaviour of Clocks, Sally Ashton's poems move like foreign landscapes, strange and luminous as the "wind pressed against blades of grasses." Invoking DaVinci, Einstein, Whitman, Pessoa, time is a radiant prism in her deft hand—elliptical, backward, stilled, and spun off the wheel of the ordinary altogether. Reaching toward history as vigorously as a "glossary of tomorrows," her riveting inquiry loosens time from its linear track. If Ashton "brings home the ruins and dreams them out," then we are gifted the chance to dwell in all the "possible circumferences."
Jennifer Sweeney, author of How to Live on Bread and Music