Dialogues with rising tides

Kelli Russell Agodon

Book - 2021

"A collection of poems by Kelli Russell Agodon"--

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Port Townsend, Washington : Copper Canyon Press [2021]
Main Author
Kelli Russell Agodon (author)
Physical Description
xv, 89 pages ; 23 cm
Includes bibliographical references.
  • Cross Rip
  • Hunger
  • String Theory Relationships
  • Magpies Recognize Themselves in the Mirror
  • Braided Between the Broken
  • Unsustainable
  • I Don't Own Anxiety, but I Borrow It Regularly
  • Whiskey-Sour-of-the-Nipple Story
  • Breaksea
  • Everyone Is Acting as If We're Not Temporary, and I Am Falling Apart in the Privacy of My Own Home
  • When my therapist tells me my father's trauma has been transferred to me, I think
  • Waltz with Gatsby at 3 a.m.
  • Lining Up the Bones
  • Lightvessel
  • Bravery
  • Scarweather
  • At Times My Body Leans toward Loss
  • How Damage Can Lead to Poetry
  • At a Cocktail Party, I Am Given a Drink Called Life Is Fleeting and the Olive Is Short-Lived
  • To Have and Have Not
  • Hold Still
  • The Ocean Is Overflowing
  • One Day I'd Like to Live in a World without Alarm Clocks
  • Black Deep
  • Hunter's Moon
  • After Discovering My Husband Bought a Handgun
  • Wound Is a Form of Wind
  • Wintercearig Waltz
  • Hesitation Waltz
  • When Someone Dies, the Sky Whispers Never Fall in Love
  • Till Death Shatters the Fabulous Stars
  • Overfalls
  • Perhaps If We Understood Desire
  • Love Waltz with Fireworks
  • Modem Love with Absinthe
  • To Help with Climate Change, We Buy Rechargeable Sex Toys
  • The Sun Doesn't Know It's a Star
  • Grace
  • At the End, We Mistook Savor for Savior
  • Shambles
  • Getting an IUD on the Day of 45's Inauguration
  • Facedown
  • Torn (Old Fabric)
  • Queen Me
  • Americanitis
  • Unsinkable
  • Americano
  • Heartland
  • SOS
  • Relief
  • How to Live in a State of Fire
  • Near-Death Experience
  • If I Had to Live Again
  • The world owes me
  • What I Call Erosion
  • Gala Melancholia
  • We Could Go On Indefinitely Being Swept Off Our Feet
  • Thank You for Saving Me, Someday I'll Save You Too
  • Notes
  • About the Author
Review by Booklist Review

Seattle-area poet Agodon's finely crafted poems gleam like prisms, so clear is her language. In the heartbreakingly beautiful "I Don't Own Anxiety, But I Borrow It Regularly," she writes "Sometimes I wonder if there's one moment / when no one is dying, where we all exist / on this planet without loss". Although loss is, after all, our central human truth, Agodon's poems attempt a dialogue with providence, a certain bargain with the gravity of our passions so that we can live. In the hilarious "Near-Death Experience," an angel tells us, "I was wrong about desire--that Earth, while messy, / had the best sex and wi-fi", / . . .I left heaven with an unmade bed and enough / light to fill a stairway." Reading Agodon's poetry is finding oneself in a bustling village of joys. The everyday grace with which we attempt to live while tumbling through our days finds expression in this sinewy collection which seems to catch us before we fall, assuring us that it's going to be okay.

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

In her piercing fourth collection, Agodon (Hourglass Museum) explores intertwined anxieties--a family history of mental illness, looming environmental collapse, the inadequacies of love--with care and understated humor. In "Unsustainable," she addresses a lover with foreboding and whimsy: "I want to keep you in my plastic/ Happy Meal heart, but what snaps open// stays on Earth forever, my center floating/ down a canal until it's swallowed by a seal." She vacillates between exploring family trauma and moments of genuine joy: "how once/ in Mexico, after I lost my wedding ring,/ I did a body shot off a woman/ I didn't know and how sticky she was/ and how the tequila made the night a little quieter/ and the stars made the beach feel like a church." Agodon has a talent for arresting titles. In "Magpies Recognize Themselves in the Mirror," bystanders at a mall watch with understanding as a woman experiences a mental health crisis: "And like that/ we were her flock in our black coats/ and white sweaters, some of us reaching our/ wings to her and some of us flying away." Despite the tragedies at the center of this book, Agodon captures the universality of dark emotions and offers a collection full of hope. (Apr.)

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Review by Library Journal Review

Few poets document our world with as much beauty and grace as Agodon (Hourglass Museum). In seven sections, Agodon's new collection examines such issues through the lens of a speaker who often feels broken herself, approaching her subject tangentially. Only a few poems focus directly on the climate change hinted at in the title, though it's a theme returned to often. Most poems center on a wife/mother making her way through a fractured life as she experiences many unexpected deaths, with two children gone young, one from choking on a balloon: "A degree in suicide? we swallowed it, / reloaded, / a master's degree in dying." Agodon has mastered the art of making each poem new through unexpected turns. Throughout, her love of life, in all its beauty and contradictions, offers a counterpoint to the massive challenges that lie ahead. "Till Death Shatters the Fabulous Stars" offers what could be the book's premise: "I'm devoted / to the broken / clamshells / climate / cockleshells." Agodon shows us why we must create a better world: "every day is also a miracle." VERDICT These stunning poems question what we as individuals can do to repair or at least survive our battered world. Highly recommended.--Doris Lynch, Monroe Cty. P.L., Bloomington, IN

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

"I Don't Own Anxiety, But I Borrow It Regularly Once I believed the saint I carried could keep me safe. He lived in a rain jacket I wore to keep out the weather and by weather, I mean danger. Tell me a story where no one dies. That story begins in heaven, ends in heaven and includes chapters on heaven, heaven, and heaven. It's not really story, but wish or a concern. Sometimes I wonder if there's one moment when no one is dying, where we all exist on this planet without loss-- but there are too many of us doing foolish things, someone is always sipping the arsenic, someone is always spinning a gun. And then, add old age, misfortune, a tree that's leaned too long in the forest and a family of five headed off for a hike. We cannot predict our tragedies. We cannot plan a party for the apocalypse because friends of the apocalypse know the apocalypse always shows up uninvited with a half-eaten bag of chips. This is why some of us wake up in the middle of the night looking for a saint-- and maybe your saint is a streetlight or maybe the sea, or maybe it's the moment you walk out the door and exist in the darkness, announce to the heavens that you're still alive. Whiskey-Sour-of-the-Nipple Story Like every forest, I carry a bonfire beneath my shirt. And my mattress? It's a featherbed of flames. I'd want to write you a letter about longing, but it has so many wishbone moments you'd break, I promise. You-- you'd end up crying or cowarding, or being part of the crocodile-tear audience asking for a refund. Like most lovers, my heartstone is actually heartbutter, a heart murmur made of wax and it melts, it smolders, the way the moth isn't suspicious of a lighter until it moves too close to the fire. This is my danger-- I kiss the whalebone without wondering what happened to the whale. It's inexperience watching the mercury drip onto my tongue-- seeing only the beauty of silver, not the poison of a perfect teardrop, like him. Or her. And still. Let's not be the part of the drink that melts into something weaker. Like any darling, I trust too much. Even a burning building has a purpose, as the whiskey does, the nipple, the novel. So let's begin the story here. Near the plastic ocean. Our shirts off. Our drinks filled. A bowl of cherries. Believing there aren't any. Wildfires in sight. Hunger If we never have enough love, we have more than most. We have lost dogs in the neighborhood and wild coyotes, and sometimes we can't tell them apart. Sometimes we don't want to. Once I brought home a coyote and told my lover that we had a new pet. Until it ate our chickens. Until it ate our chickens, our ducks, and our cat. Sometimes we make mistakes and call them coincidences. We hold open the door then wonder how the stranger ended up in our home. There is a woman on our block who thinks she is feeding bunnies, but they are large rats without tails. Remember the farmer's wife? Remember the carving knife? We are all trying to change what we fear into something beautiful. But even rats need to eat. Even rats and coyotes and the bones on the trail could be the bones on our plates. I ordered Cornish hen. I ordered duck. Sometimes love hurts. Sometimes the lost dog doesn't need to be found. The Sun Doesn't Know It's a Star We live in a world where every season begins with a bullet exiting a shadow and someone praying for her lilacs, for her honeysuckle to take root. It's a hundred degrees in the shade and the weather argues with itself over who has the better candidate-- stop you're both wrong, the sky wins by a meteor shower. The stars aren't watching television tonight, they're out waltzing through modern galaxies, a ballroom of ghosts where everything is about daybreak and dazzle, how much moondust will trail into the house. Somewhere between ego and starshine, we lost our hatbox of kindness, maybe we stored it in the back closet because fear seemed much more dramatic on the living- room table. And we wonder why we think our neighbor's a spy and everyone is so on edge. Some days the stranger planting honeysuckle to stabilize the cliff leans too far into the galaxy and we fall into her optimism. Trust what you don't know, like the honeybees that rise from the heart of the canyon, watch them like small suns circling the slight blossoms, watch them slide in, knowing even a small amount of nectar is a greater sum than none. " Excerpted from Dialogues with Rising Tides by Kelli Russell Agodon All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.