Critical Commentary

Molly Kugel has written a necessary work for the moment, this very moment of danger: “In the meantime, as the world is burning...we must take stock.” Kugel has learned from Emily Dickinson as well as Rachel Carson what a wonder and danger it is we live in. And this is a deeply personal kind of seeing being celebrated. She offers a book of observations about observing, about how the science of the world and the mourning of it are connected—no book I know ties so intimately, well, intimacy, to the fate of the natural world so devastatingly as does Groundcover.

Bin Ramke, author of Earth on Earth

In these evocative pages, Molly Kugel connects the lives of mothers and children, women and botanicals, and the turning seasons of the natural world as she grieves the losses of a young brother and her father. The seasons of loss and grief are firmly based here in the ancient, ur-story of the loss of a child, that of the Persephone myth. The poet highlights as well the contributions of early women botanists in their struggle with the adaptations necessary to survive and flourish in this world. The poems are often incantatory, connecting the narrator with the lineage of “wise women” who have come before, and whose resonances echo profoundly in the present. 

Sidney Wade, author of Deep Gossip: New and Selected Poem