Review: Ecstatic Emigre by Claudia Keelan

Ecstatic Émigré: An Ethics of Practice by Claudia Keelan (University of Michigan Press, 2018)

Reviewed by Michelle Mitchell-Foust

To hold a forest dear is easy in Oregon. Where I live, forested land preaches the tenacity of growth, overgrowth, understory. Scented speech, the call and response between plants and plants, and plants and animals, is everywhere, almost terrifying in its abundance. One might say that the forest remains the third terrain of my life, after field and desert. And in its arms I have been fighting the loneliness that comes from a years-long absence of poetry, or rather, my own lines of poetry in conception. Or perhaps I have been listening to an overabundance of words that I can’t place. Regardless, this is not an even exchange–forest for poem-making–but the cursive of branches and the color of eccentric miniature often make the poems of my days. For the time being, searching the characteristics of the smallest visible life is the sublime.

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Local Forecast: Whirlwind @ Lesbos by Risa Denenberg

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Whirlwind @ Lesbos by Risa Denenberg (Headmistress Press, 2016)

Reviewed by Rebecca Valley

After a long hiatus, I’ve returned to our Local Forecast series on writers of the Pacific Northwest with a book that, while written by a local, is remarkably worldly. Whirlwind @ Lesbos, the latest collection by Seattlite Risa Denenberg, is aptly named – the poems in this collection pull from the deepest corners of the poet’s memory and are juxtaposed together to create a sensual, painful epic where a lover is lost at the same moment, or perhaps even before, she is found, and ghosts churn, only occasionally showing their faces. Continue reading

Review: I’ve Heard the Vultures Singing by Lucia Perillo

index.jpgI’ve Heard the Vultures Singing: Field Notes on Poetry, Illness, and Nature by Lucia Perillo (Trinity University Press, 2007)

Reviewed by Rebecca Valley

In memory of a favorite local poet, a woman I regret having never met.

I finished reading Lucia Perillo’s memoir, I’ve Heard the Vultures Singing, only a few weeks ago. Despite the fact that she’d spent decades living in the city I call home, this was the first time I’d finished a book of hers in its entirety – before her memoir, I’d read snippets of poems, fragments from each of her books.

Despite the fact that Perillo writes almost exclusively about chronic illness and her daily struggle to keep her body in motion, I was shocked to find that she’d passed away nearly a week ago, without the usual cacophony of the literary community. Continue reading

Local Forecast: The Body’s Alphabet by Ann Tweedy

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The Body’s Alphabet by Ann Tweedy (Headmistress Press, 2016)

Reviewed by Rebecca Valley

For more in our Local Forecast series on authors of the Pacific Northwest, click here.

Ann Tweedy’s collection The Body’s Alphabet is a book of in-betweens – in-between homes, in-between loves, in-between sexualities. It is a book about motherhood and memory, and the space we keep for our childhood long after we have grown up around it. Though Tweedy begins The Body’s Alphabet with the lines “I tread through / the world mindful that upsets / follow unguarded movement” (1), over the course of the collection she finds strength in those quiet and delicate moments, and in doing so steps out from her own carefully crafted betweenness to affirm her presence in the work. Continue reading