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Self-Portrait with Cephalopod

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Self-Portrait with Cephalopod is lush and obsessed and frantic and deathy. At times, there is a pre-apocalyptic reverence and refl... Weiterlesen
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Self-Portrait with Cephalopod is lush and obsessed and frantic and deathy. At times, there is a pre-apocalyptic reverence and reflection in this collection that feels almost monastic. Beautiful and timely work.francine j. harris

Praise for Book of Exodus

'Dreaming is its own wilderness,' writes Kathryn Smith in Book of Exodus, and with what wondrous linguistic and imagistic agility she beckons me into that wilderness. It is one she makes both intimate and real. These poems allow entry, or re-entry, to primal selves, we who once roamed a forest, ate of its bounty, and fought its beasts. And yes, in the best sense, the book also seemsas a marvelous abecedarian poem's title proclaimsa 'Rehearsal for the Apocalypse.'Nance Van Winckel

The speaker of these poems creates journeys where to be lost is to be accompanied by the word, by the interior fires and holiness of wilderness, by creature and dream. The poems' language, both spare and sumptuous, aims for singleness of being and transformation. Kathryn Smith's first collection melds the field's briar and the ash of insubstantiality in her unsparing witnessing of experience and faith, this poet's discipline and journey.Laurie Lamon

In these crisp, fiercely honest poems, Kathryn Smith asserts again and again that the spiritual path is one of unrelenting existential struggle, regardless of the strength or foundation of one's belief, that the task is to forge one's own purely individual relationship with the ineffable. Behind each structure and lyrical moment, each little fractured song-like dance at the edges of scripture, lies a metapoetic interrogation of language itself. The book is a truly distinctive first flight.Christopher Howell

Kathryn Smith is the author of Self-Portrait with Cephalopod, as well as the collection Book of Exodus and the chapbook Chosen Companions of the Goblin, winner of the 2018 Open Country Press Chapbook Contest. Her poems have appeared in Poetry Northwest, Bellingham Review, The Journal, Mid-American Review, Redivider, and elsewhere, and she has received an Allied Arts Foundation award, a Spokane Arts Grant Award, and a Pushcart Special Mention. She received her MFA in creative writing from Eastern Washington University and lives in Spokane, Washington, where she also makes collage and mixed media art.

From that day on the surface was never enough.

Environmental collapse. The betrayals and alliances of the animal world. A father who works in a timber mill. The celebrities in our feeds, the stories we tell ourselves. Loss, never-ending loss. Self-Portrait with Cephalopodselected by francine j. harris as winner of the Jake Adam York Prizeis an account of being a girl, and then a woman, in the world; of being a living creature on a doomed planet; of being someone who aspires to do better but is torn between attention and distraction.

Here, Kathryn Smith offers observations and anxieties, prophecies and prayers, darkness and lightbut never false hope. Instead, she incises our vanities and our hypocrisies, the bloody hand holding back / the skin, revealing the world's inner workings, / rubbery and caught between the teeth. These are the poems of someone who feels her and our failings in the viscera, in the bones, and who bears witness to that pain on the page.

Self-Portrait with Cephalopod is an urgent and necessary collection about living in this precarious moment, meditative and resolutely unsentimental.

Spell to turn the world around

Begin each day collecting birds battered
in the night by creatures bent on malice.
Give thanks for dew and viscera's bright litter,
leaves brought down by drought and feathers damp

with blood. When you say you love fall, be sure
you know it's death's season. Take shallow
breaths, reminding you of summer's smoke,
a wildfire bruise that locked us all inside.

Cling to warm October afternoons
as vow to live a waterless winter.
Drive cross-state to the firefighter's grave
and read the poem he memorized at 17,

three years before flames overtook the vehicle
he rode in, trying to reach disaster.

What spoils in the sun

You'd think by now I'd stop asking what's wrong with me
that I sleep so much. You'd think the chickens would stop
complaining from their coop. I pick tomatoes:
sauce tomatoes and beefsteaks and tomatoes especially
for drying. Each ripens in its own time,
though they all set at once. I push up my sleeves.
I've got this wedding to go to and I want my shoulders
evenly burned in my sleeveless dress.
What's wrong with me? I swallow coffee, ibuprofen.
I toss the chickens a bitter cucumber. You'd think
they'd stop complaining. I thought I was done
with weddings. For years I spent my summers
sitting through them, and then they stopped and then
the babies. What's wrong with me
that I don't like weddings? It must be all that
happiness. Who needs so many goddamned tomatoes?
Calabash and Jaune Flame and Bread & Salt.
Who could resist such names? I suppose that's why
some people have babies, to name something and call it
by name and have it answer. At first I named the chickens,
but when they started dying, I just started calling them all Bird.
My neighbor says, Hi, Girls! as though they're children
when she calls to them over the fence, tossing them melon rinds
and overgrown zucchinis they peck at briefly, then leave to rot.

Self-portrait with Cephalopod and Digitalis Purpurea
for Maya

Sometimes a girl doesn't need a reason to place
a foxglove blossom on her tongue. It's enough
to like the idea that the heart could stop because
of flowers. It's that or be crushed like ichthyosaurus
in a kraken's grasp by my own sadness, fossilized
in unnatural linear patterns, finally measured
by the geometry of loss. I don't need another reason
to fear the ocean; I already know it could swallow me
from the inside if I tried to breathe it in. Everything
beautiful is dangerous, and attempting beauty's
a risk, like the dress my mom's friend made me
for the eighth-grade dance. So often, things don't
hang together the way I imagine. That seafoam bow
over my pale, scant breasts looked nothing
like the pattern promised. It made my head hurt,
knowing how little meets our expectations,
so I refused the last dance and my date left
without me. He spent the next four years
pretending I wasn't there, my shadow
scuttling the halls of the high school beside him.
Sometimes a girl doesn't need a reason to want
to disappear behind the unseen framework
of collarbones. I think mine would look lovely
in a cephalopod's garden after she had spit away
the sateen straps. Have you ever wondered
what's beneath the skin, working? I know
so little, I wouldn't recognize my own heart if I saw it
outside my body. I wouldn't know my own bones
arranged in an ocean bed, an octopus coaxing
them to root in the sea floor until their stalks
grew thick with mouthlike blooms.

The young eat what these birds disgorge from their crops

Old World vultures track their prey by vision. New World vultures
smell the dead a mile away. Drawn to decay. Oh, to be so
unambiguously guided. I want to lie down in the battlefield
and be scavenged. My mother wants to know who fought
the battle. She's from the Old World. We drive a corkscrew road
while vultures churn the sky. History repeats itself. I keep waiting
for the world to turn around. From atop the butte, we see every
direction, miles of acres of non-native wheat. The Old World
sighs, Well, we lost the battle. I hem and mumble, haw and lie.
The New World spreads its New-World wings. I zip my coat
against a wind that whistles through vulture feathers, alerts
the wake to feeding time. History defeats itself. I want the sky
to stutter above me, spitting down its gawk and cry.
Different species of vulture eat different parts of the carcass,
some dropping bones from high above, exposing the marrow
of what's killed by something else. Without decomposers, the dead
would clutter the earth. Vultures circle, necklacing our errors.
I want the descentthe swoop and pluck, clear to my sharp
and nationless bones. The earth turns, or it doesn't, we spiral
back down, and the vultures overhead wait for something to die.


Titel: Self-Portrait with Cephalopod
EAN: 9781571315175
ISBN: 978-1-57131-517-5
Format: Kartonierter Einband
Herausgeber: Ingram Publishers Services
Genre: Lyrik & Dramatik
Veröffentlichung: 09.02.2021
Jahr: 2021