Saturday, April 25, 2009

New chapbook! pale leaf floating by gaye gambell-peterson

Cherry Pie is delighted to announce a new chapbook -- pale leaf floating, by gaye gambell-peterson. This one is lovely to look at, and a muscular pleasure to read.

The poems gather up the objects of everyday life -- stones, a leaf, a bird, pennies, an egg -- and convert them to a wise philosophy of endurance as the poet navigates her way through illness, losses, the pleasures of grandchildren, the determination to enjoy each day and let every cup overflow.

Here's a poem:


There flew the gladdening red bird,
again, again, across my path.

There smiled the pale sliver of moon,
with a bright star at her side.

There bobbed upon flooded river, a bit
of trash that stayed afloat while I watched.

Here bloomed, after two years of making
only leaves, the purple ruffled iris.

There upon my cottonwood sat the
mourning dove – but his back was to me.
I am protected from grief.

I collected these omens so they’d tell me
the truth the way I wanted it to be.

Here on my stoop is one of my kept stones –
flecked gray, rounded, a solidity that reassures.
I turn its damaged side to a corner.

And another one, with an equal amount of grit and good cheer in balance:


“Common: loss of balance; puffy face; chronic trouble sleeping.
Rare: a sense of well-being.”
- from a list of side effects

I am at my open door, breathing,
as another day lowers.

Magenta stripe flashes a cloud belly
and Venus elevates,

hangs near my moon.
I let my attitude rise to her,

my lifted face newly full.
Some sort of conjunction, this new

aspect – between exaggerated
euphoria and dire possibility.

I’m awake on the high road,
tilting the light fantastic,

exalting for the stiff-jointed
marionette having left the building.

I am condensed to a quiddity,
leaning against my edges.

She moves away.
Comes back. Gleaming.

You might recognize gaye gambell-peterson as the artist of some previous Cherry Pie chapbook covers (Rotogravure, The Permeability of Memory, and the anthology Breathing Out). Here, she has again created the cover artwork, and also included half a dozen collages inside the book to illustrate her own poems.

pale leaf floating (ISBN 978-0-9748468-9-7) is $10, and available at Left Bank Books, 399 N. Euclid, St. Louis, MO 63108 (ph 314.367.6731). You may also order from Cherry Pie Press -- email for information, or download the order form from this blog site.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Weaving the Light: review and launch

Mary Ruth Donnelly's Weaving the Light has drawn the attention of Midwest Book Review, which notes it is "a strong pick for those looking for women's poetry with a Midwestern flavor" and that its appearance is yet one more entry "into the fine Midwest Women Poets series."

Read the review here:

This seems a good occasion for a look back at the book launch event held in early March for Weaving the Light. Rick Spencer provided an introduction to the full house at the event. Rick, formerly part of the notable (and, regrettably, no longer published) Delmar Magazine, now teaches philosophy at Southwestern Illinois College. He's given permission to republish here his remarks introducing Mary Ruth Donnelly’s readings from Weaving the Light:

I don’t know why Mary Ruth has such a love for landscape: why she is drawn to riverbanks and plains, the cup-like hollow of a garden, the shape of a road in the hills. But she is. Perhaps it was her upbringing in Kansas City—another river city—a city near the Great Plains? Maybe it is some spatial gene she inherited from ancestors whose lives were all too influenced by the horizon? Nevertheless, it is a theme in her writing: both her prose and her poetry. Her sensitivity to the land lets her see patterns of landscape in film and literature. In poetry, it pushes the levee into the title and the mountain into the metaphor.

I do know why she writes of painful things, of loss, of tears. Poetry is one of the natural habitats for tragedy. In its environment, lamentation is never likely to become an endangered species. But, for an eye sensitive to landscape, poetry becomes more than a place to enshrine that bitter moment we can’t forget. It becomes the place to show us the truth of our losses: the fragility of this life, the vulnerability of us all, the mystery of fate, and the miracle of our carrying on.

While there are many other themes in her book, these two, landscape and loss, standout. Sure, there are trees and women, museums and mammals, art and architecture. However, I am captivated by the beauty of these two.

Then again, I, too, am entranced by the mountains, and made humble by the sky over the plains. I, too, attend to the lessons of my loss, the sacred truths inside of sadness.

It is a wonderful book. Some of the poems I witnessed as the driver, or navigator, of a car in a storm. Other poems are from places I don’t know. Still, they are as familiar as my own home, with its porch light and peeling paint—a welcome banner to me alone. This is to say these poems speak to me. I think they will speak to you as well.

Thank you Rick. Well said.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Memory and war

Helen Eisen's chapbook, The Permeability of Memory, has been mentioned in the blog Writing the Holocaust. John Guzlowski interviews Eisen about the experience of childhood in the deportation camps, and the experience of absorbing memories of the war from her parents and from other adult survivors. Eisen's descriptions of how she sees memory working, how it moves through time and distance and the body, and how it is shared and transmitted, is fascinating -- layered and nuanced the same way her poems are.

Read the interview here: