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The Salty River Bleeds
A Ranch Bordering the Salty River
The Timbre of Sand
out of print – sorry
Today’s guest Ada Limón discusses her latest collection of poetry, The Hurting Kind, whose poems ask and explore what it means to be a human animal among animals, and how language can be a means or an obstacle to this desire. We talk about the relationship of joy to death, poetry to praise, and the desire to and challenges of writing with directness, with an aim to connect. We look at the trajectory of Ada’s poetics, one she describes as getting closer and closer to who she really is, and what it means, in language and on the page, to aim for authenticity, for the “I” in your poems to really be, or aim to be, you.
We also talk about pizza, groundhogs, and the Argentinian poet Alejandra Pizarnik (and I make an improbable connection between the three!). Pizarnik is a big part of our conversation and for the bonus audio archive, Ada contributes a reading of some Pizarnik poems that she particularly loves. To learn more about how to subscribe to the bonus audio and the other potential benefits and rewards of becoming a supporter of the show, head over to the Between the Covers Patreon page.
Lastly, here is the Bookshop for today’s episode, with all the books mentioned.
Crow Funeral by Kate Hanson Foster
Review by Stephen Page
In the first poem of “Crow Funeral,” by Kate Hanson Foster, the narrator employs crows as harbingers of death. The black birds appear repeatedly throughout the book and become symbols of mortality.
Even though the narrator desires to become a wife and a mother, her husband and first born quickly become responsibilities, sweaty clingers, and nerve-racking noise makers—rather than what she hoped for, joyful beings accompanying her through her cycle of life.
She wants to believe that (her learned version of) God will help her understand this all, help her be happy, but her (socialized version of) God becomes a smelly bug, a dying fish—thus unhelpful. Eventually, she realizes that she is the Creator, the creator of, what is to pass, three children, so she is the one responsible for their (and her) happiness.
As the book progresses, she has other epiphanies, but there is a crow perpetually perched upon her shoulder. She falls into a long-term depression.
Does the narrator find a way to rise from her mental nadir?
The poetry by Mx. Foster is impactive, elegant, and metaphorically consistent.
Kate Hanson Foster is the author of Mid Drift, a finalist for the Massachusetts Center for the Book Award, and Crow Funeral. Her writing has appeared in Birmingham Poetry Review, Comstock Review, Harpur Palate, Poet Lore, Salamander, Tupelo Quarterly, and elsewhere. A recipient of the NEA Parent Fellowship through the Vermont Studio Center, she lives and writes in Groton, Massachusetts.
Her website is: https://www.katehansonfoster.com
You may also find her on facebook, twitter, and Instagram.
by Jules Nyquist
In the heat of summer, retiree Nancy loads the mounted deer heads into her Hyundai SUV. She evacuates with caribou antlers piled on top of a few suitcases. The antelope head is her prized possession. It stares at her with its glass eyes in the suburban neighborhood with winding streets and split-level homes as she pulls out onto the interstate. This time the fire wins, the winds blow close enough to drench her hoe in smoke, and this time she knows the fear of pending death. She feels the weight of the loaded rifle in her hands. Her trophy mounts bring her closer to nature, closer to control. When her husband died, this was all she had left of their times on the range together. National Guard soldiers help police the roadblocks to lead her, along with 30,000 other residents, out of the city. She…
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Here is one of the poems from “The Timbre of Sand” from Stephen Page:
We rose naked from the little warm pond,
And holding hands we followed the helix road,
To a flower flooded garden encircled by trees,
And lay entangled beneath a twisted pear.
We spoke, but after vain attempts to communicate,
The tree became covered in tinsel and buds,
Which we aspired to name, but misspelled their meaning,
And dinosaurs appeared running in boxes at our feet.
We found that tea and wine warmed the spirit,
And the scent of baking bread inflamed our senses,
Yet yeast evoked memories we could not recall.
We tilled the earth and rested at night in furrows,
Discussing genealogy during meteor showers,
And ate bulbs, calmed by the envelope of stars.
Find the book online.
It may also be in one of your local libraries or bookstores.
Folks, writing folks, Miriam O’Neal looking for someone to review her new collection, The Half-Said Things (Nixes Mate Books, 2022). If you have the time and inclination please message her and she can send you a review copy.
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