In Toni Ortner’s Giving Myself Over to J.S. Bach, intensely lyrical poems interweave grief and love (sexual, family, even love of a pet) The voice of the poems is intimate, consistent, fluid and musical as the poems move among the different topics, tied together by recurring musical and water images. Read as a whole, this collection offers the pleasures of unity, variety and movement in a work of deep emotion.
Judith Kerman- author of Aleph, broken Poems from My Diaspora
Toni Ortner has a very unique poetic voice. She does not adhere to specific or required form, meter or grammar, and yet the conglomerate of her words is indisputably poetry because she speaks her heart’s truth. Giving Myself Over to J. S. Bach is a book about love, specific love, imagined love, ideal love, everyday love, lost love, unhappy love, love of music, of a man, of a father, of words, of beauty. Toni’s language wanders through the worlds of the emotions that are embedded in human relationships and she misses nothing. Her range is compelling and intellectual. “The ultimate seduction by a mind possessing amplitude of order/notes arranged assiduously to form a perfect whole.” Her verses are also beautiful and meditative: “as if there could be no vessels captured no contours altered/no masts splintered nothing sucked under.” “ He thinks of his unfaithful wife/ a life he might have led/ a song he would write if notes/could find him.The last seven poems of the book, ending with ‘Over Night the River Removed its Thick Coat’ create a quietly beautiful arrival at serenity and repose where all the pieces come together into “This is the world. Faith demands we cannot imagine it different.”
Becky Dennison Sakellariou, author of six books. The most recent: No Foothold in this Geography.