“American Nocturne”, Elisabeth Stevens’ sixth book of poetry, is unfettered, wide-ranging. Unlike her fifth collection, “Sirens’ Songs”, which was selected by Kirkus Reviews as one of the hundred best indie books of 2011 and focused intensely on romantic and sexual liaisons, “American Nocturne” explores a world-wide geography and more, ranging expansively from continent to continent, from reality to dream.
“American Nocturne” begins with a Manhattan sunset (the title poem) moves across the country, concludes in a sun-animated hospital solarium back in New York City. In between, the poet visits a North Carolina pizza parlor, a tour boat in Dunedin, New Zealand, and drives a mysterious passenger on a bureaucratic, night errand before realizing that her companion is ‘no longer living.’
Later, in ”Voyage,” an ancient death ship ventures to ‘the edge of the earth,’ and, in ”Arachne,” a powerful spider offers the possibility of transfiguration. In ”Planting Trees,” the death of trees is countered by the assertion: ‘I’ll plant as long as I can.’