The Quick is a book of essences. Katrina Roberts's large-spirited and exhilarating poetry is at once celebratory and elegiac, lyric and narrative, striving to divine what's at the quick of this fleeting existence we share. Anchored in many ways by the long poem "Cantata," which chronicles her pregnancy and the birth of her son, the book turns and turns its kaleidoscopic lens, settling now on origins and creation myths, now on Greek or Welsh gods, now on a painting by Vermeer or on an article from the daily news, all slipping together to illuminate our coming to consciousness, our coming to "be." The poems ask how one might reconcile one's simple joys with the world's larger concerns. An inquiry of this depth cannot fail to encounter grief, but it is a grief tempered and transcended by the acceptance of ongoing life, as well as a consistently outward-focused eye and a passion for language. Sparked by Roberts's sharp imagery and daring cadences, this is a fresh and savvy collection, informed by science, myth, music, philosophy, and etymology, all braided within a sinuous narrative line that runs from sorrow to rich celebration.