Softcover, 156 pages
ISBN 978-1-57423-217-2
978-1-57423-217-2
2011, $17.95

This title is out of stock.

Well Then There Now
by Juliana Spahr

Accretion, articulation, exploration, transformation, naming, sentiment, private and public property – these are just a few of Juliana Spahr's interests. In this, her third collection of poetry, we find her performing her characteristic magic, turning these theoretical concerns into a poetic odyssey.

From her first poem, written in Honolulu, Hawaii, to the last, written in Berkeley, California, about her childhood in Appalachia, Spahr takes us on a wild patchwork journey backwards and forwards in time and space, tracking change – in ecology, society, economies, herself. Through a collage of "found language," a deep curiosity about place, and a restless intelligence, Spahr demonstrates the vibrant possibilities of an investigatory poetics. This verse is more inclusive than exclusive; consistently Spahr includes grape varietals, the shrinking of public beachfront in Hawaii, endangered plant, fish, and wildlife species, the melting of the polar ice caps, and comparative poverty rates in her eclectic repertoire. She also knows how to sing – in the oldest tradition of poetry – of loss, and her lament for nature is the most keen.

We come into the world.
We come into the world and there it is.
The sun is there.
The brown of the river leading to the blue and the brown
of the ocean is there.
Salmon and eels are there moving between the brown
and the brown and the blue.
The green of the land is there.
Elders and youngers are there.
We come into the world and we are there.
And we begin to breathe.
We come into the world and there it is.
We come into the world without and we breathe it in.
We come into the world and begin to move between the
brown and the blue and the green of it.
                      From "Gentle Now, Don't Add to Heartache"

Juliana Spahr is a poet, scholar, and editor. Among her previous works are This Connection of Everyone with Lungs (University of California, 2005), and The Transformation (Atelos, 2007).

Praise for Well Then There Now

Spahr's fifth book of imaginative writing (both poems and prose) should be a blockbuster, a lasting disturbance; a work of crisp wit, bizarre conjunctions and ultimately enduring moral authority; it is also the best, and perhaps the most widely accessible, thing that Spahr has done.
Publishers Weekly

Juliana Spahr taught at the University of Hawaii, Manoa, from 1997 to 2003. Her autobiographical novel The Transformation (2007) remembers how she and her closest friends became excited about Hawaiian ethnic nationalism, despite its efforts to exclude them, because it held some "possibility of escape from large systemic limitations. They too were trying to escape from large systems, from limitations on relation…. And while they had never indulged in the misunderstanding that art and music and literature could be independent of politics, [their] goosebumps were a reminder that they had a lot to learn." In Well Then There Now Spahr shows what she learned. She is now a professor at Mills College in Oakland, California, but most of her new book dwells on her time in Hawaii, and it is by far the most detailed and satisfying of her four collections of poems. Five of its eight works concern the islands; all eight speak to the mixed emotions, or new emotions, that Spahr's insistent attention to large systems—money, language, climate, geography—recommends.
The Nation

Her poems seem particularly vital at the moment not just for the pleasure inherent in their forms of language, but also for the challenge posed by their focus on community. Spahr tests and rejects any separation between intimate passion and general policy. In her poems, love does not resist the world beyond; love lets it in.
Los Angeles Review of Books

Across mountains and oceans, Juliana Spahr spins her original upbringing into a fine assortment of poetry.

The Midwest Book Review


 

 

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