Recognition for Lifted to the Wind Poems 1974 – 2015

Lifted to the Wind is a finalist for the Lascaux Prize for Poetry and the New Mexico Book Award.

 

Impressions of a Seeker A Review of Lifted to the Wind by Ken Hada

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Impressions of a Seeker

 

Lifted to the Wind: Poems 1974 – 2015 by Susan Gardner

Red Mountain Press, 2015

 

Susan Gardner’s latest book feels special to the touch. The texture of the cover and the following pages, displaying imagistic poems and supplemental ink paintings and calligraphy, effectively move the reader to contemplate the glory of the natural world as well as everyday.

 

Gardner’s poems draw on her wide-ranging travels and her knowledge of several world cultures and religions. Her collection draws the reader into a timeless, holy conversation—as if prayer is a pattern of observation and response, a way of seeking truth beyond the immediate surface. A careful reading of Lifted to the Wind requires a reflective, contemplative mood. The work functions as ritual. The aesthetic control that Gardner exhibits rewards such careful attention.

Her work connects readers to a poetic tradition that endures despite the limits of time and the restraints of language and society.

-Ken Hada, author of Persimmon Sunday

Lifted to the Wind – Kirkus Review

Themes of nature, travel, relationships, and current events run through Gardner’s (To Inhabit the Felt World, 2013, etc.) collected poems, some of which are also in Spanish.

Gardner, a writer and visual artist based in New Mexico, presents a sonically and linguistically rich set of verses mined from foreign travels, personal interactions, and experiences of the natural world. “Locked Gate” tells the story of a Guatemalan woman who disappeared in 1980. “No body. No grave. Not a strand of hair” remains, yet, “Remembered…she’s alive as you or me.” Other protest poems address the mistreatment of women (“we know the sorrow of / our younger sisters”) and the pervasiveness of violence (“Any time is the time / to go to war”). Elsewhere, verses resemble haiku in their concision and natural focus, especially the central quartet of sections named after the seasons. Fresh metaphors and vivid images linger: “Thunder rolls its baritone song nearby” and “white-whiskered crane alone / in morning stillness.” “Cezanne’s Apples” and “Garden Bench” are two of the strongest poems. The former includes an array of color (“viridian, carmine, cochineal”), while the latter’s sibilance (“Sumptuous excess silences slow wind”) is a good example of alliteration. “Yellow,” a frequent adjective, lends a nostalgic glow to “Montserrat Revisited,” one of several standout travel poems: “last tenacious yellow cleaves to sycamore.” The gentle eroticism of “Desiderata” finds muted resonance in “Bedtime Story,” in which two people dream of building a bed of aspens. The bed is a symbol for their marriage, and there is a deliberate echo of Yeats’ “The Second Coming” as they wonder, “Would the center hold?” Physics and Internet security, respectively, provide the unusual vocabulary for two later poems. Care has clearly been taken over the varied stanza lengths and indentation, while Gardner’s brush-stroke images are germane illustrations. Twenty-five poems are accompanied by Spanish versions—an additional gift for bilingual readers.

Precise language and imagery reinforce the conclusion that noticing leads to enlightenment: “a few things / unremarked / awaken us to this life.”

-Kirkus Reviews

LIFTED TO THE WIND Poems 1974 – 2015

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A book of new and selected poetry to be published in spring 2016.

A book of new and selected poetry to be published in spring 2016.

Recognition for TO INHABIT THE FELT WORLD

The photograph is from the WaterLight series.

The photograph is from the WaterLight series.

Finalist for the Da Vinci Eye Award for cover art and design.

Exploding in consonants and fertile juxtapositions of verbs with their luxuriant tenses, rubbing against the grain… celebrating the meaning of anything seen, held, or enjoyed—this collection rocks the reader in ways post-modern poetry never will…. these poems make us want to believe in the human project—the words breathe and beat with music and electricity….” Indeed, these poems go after life, dragging it in, holding it close—devouring it through iambs and “…the Felt World.” — Eric Hoffer Book Award, Honorable Mention for Poetry

 

To Inhabit the Felt World is a collection of poetry from Susan Gardner, as she presents her own unique interpretation of the universe…. [With] awareness and wisdom, To Inhabit the Felt World is a fine addition to contemporary poetry collections, recommended — Midwest Book Review

 

Susan Gardner’s spare but urgent collection of poems, To Inhabit the Felt World, is “the roar of alive”…. I don’t believe I have ever read lines of such ferocity, honesty and pain….

To Inhabit the Felt World is a remarkable collection by a remarkable poet/painter/photographer. — Elizabeth Raby, poet, author of Ink on Snow

 

The sinews of Ms. Gardner’s poetic form elevate our own perceptions, so that we too, may unabashedly inhabit the felt world and restore those moments, which deem us human and aesthetically free. — Gary Worth Moody, author of Hazards of Grace

 

Susan takes us by the throat… into seemingly veiled poems that leave haunting images for us to reinterpret, to meditate upon. These are poems for the poet-breath within us. One reading, one long breath is not enough.… As a fellow poet, I am revived by this gathering of penetrating tenderness. — James McGrath, author of At the Edgelessness of Light, Dreaming invisible Voices and Speaking With Magpies

 

painfully honest and joyously expressive. You can almost hear the voice of the poet in the structure of the poems and in the powerful cadence of the words. Susan’s work speaks of honest emotion, introspection, and heart. — Sharon Vander Meer, Happenstance

beautiful in production and text — Joan Logghe, Poet Laureate Santa Fe 2010-2012 and author of The Singing Bowl

TO INHABIT THE FELT WORLD Nominated for da Vinci Eye Prize

The photograph is from the WaterLight series.

The photograph is from
the WaterLight series.

 

 

I’m honored that my new book TO INHABIT THE FELT WORLD has been nominated as a finalist for the da Vinci Eye prize for cover art. The cover image is from my WaterLight series.

Box of Light ~ Caja de Luz

Box of Light

 

At six in the afternoon

the air is heavy with sun

filled with intimations of the coming evening

still holding a lovely light

 

A motionless moment

 

I put my memories of the future

in this box of light.

 

Caja de luz

 

A las seis de la tarde

el aire está pesado de sol

lleno de insinuaciones de la noche que se acerca

sostiene todavía una luz feliz

 

Un momento inmóvil

 

Pongo mis recuerdos del porvenir

en esta caja de luz.

Garden Bench

Tepoztlan-river-webcopy

Garden Bench

 

Narrowing path

 

overrun with elephant ears, birds-of-paradise,

pampas grass, plumed with decay.

 

Tentacles avid, relentlessly accelerate.

Sumptuous excess silences slow wind.

 

In canopy leaves reach for sky.

 

Alone here, unlonely,

immolant joy.

 

Between seasons, angled apart, the stone rests on gray schist legs.

 

Each dry winter, cemented

in their shrunken rigid waterless bed

desiccated stems flake to dust

Leaves of streamside trees

wait for July rain to decompose.

 

Each rainy summer night it sinks another iota toward its ancestral home

amidst the bedrock

of the river’s underground channel

tipping  imperceptibly

aslant in the slippery loam

 

The path a dirt track, no longer wide enough for two people to pass,

once planted, now wild

 

below steep rock steps a derelict fountain,

verdigris-bronze head on the wall

calcified mouth unable to spout the rainy runoff.

 

There the bench waited for decades.

 

Broken sun glints through heavy foliage.

Awake

I dream the afternoon.

 

Words fall through cascade of air.

 

Lines found in any order,

reordered,

folded away,

 

found again,

foundered in the torrent

found sheltered

this reader of stone in the rain.

 

 

a                  a                a

 

Along a wide path,

white with florescent light,

white with cold empty shining air

immaculate, pristine, precise,

five people, a crowd covered in blue,

walk steady and resolute .

 

Awake

on the rolling platform

I dream back this sheltered garden.

 

The tiny black mystery, size of a fingernail, sends its life out

in threads, ready to take mine in suicidal excess.

They, steadfast under blue lights, mean to murder

this malignant monster.

 

Silence and noise, garden leaves,

insects and wind, muffled footsteps

 

 

A stone in the river ,washed smooth

by twenty years absence,

lies wet in the sunshine.

 

Gentle in its muddy bed,

heavy in my hand now, its body

contains the igneous history of the world.

 

A wader in this stream,

I step in the icy flow and fall

against its solid actuality.

 

 

2012

Partita

PARTITA

 

I          Coffee break

they lean into the space between them

faces illuminated with interest

or pheromones

they leave their coffee to  grow cold

 

he explains

    the phenomenological world

            materialist dialectics

kama sutra

 

blind to the world

they take one breath,

exhale,

then one more

 

deaf to all but one voice,

bellies, breasts, crotch, hair,

focused,

limerance absolute

 

immeasurable, preposterous, unquenchable appetite

ravenous for bone and skin

avid for muscle, fat, blood

 

finger pads on webbing of toes

hair against breast, tongue edging earlobe

voice in the valley

notched between the ends of clavicles

 

the roar of alive

 

II         Lust

 

He just wants

dominion over money, mind, body, over piles of flesh

ownership of toes, taste buds, hips

ownership of thought, intention, ambition

piles of stuff no one wants

 

She holds hurt in her bones,

in mind

in dreams

at the edge

of fingernails

scraping the soul

two, cancered with regret

 

shrunk into a teaspoon of sown salt.

 

 III       Weight

 

 

Hard tumor of hurt

 

No need for absolution

 

Unrequited

untouched

no amends

 

left with fingers

 

bent backward off open palms,

calloused with unanswered forgiveness

 

Montserrat Revisited

Montserrat

Montserrat

Montserrat Revisited

 

November drizzle dismisses easy days

sky fog belts rocky towers

last tenacious yellow cleaves to sycamore

 

Wet cobbles cross the village

past sienna-plastered walls

to the arched churchly porch

 

High-window light falls on young faces

wide eyes, open mouths release ordinary voices

celestial in the stone space

 

Long aisles interrupted with chapels

virgin heroines long departed

kings, conquerors, redeemers

 

One new brilliant glass-doored space, punctuated with

crossed hands, crossed feet,

thorned corona

to enter, hands push against the wooden bar

caress the carved history of Catalunya

 

Gentle-voiced crowd edges around the perimeter

up sloped steps scooped out by each pilgrim’s foot

the black Madonna, centuries of candled

smoke and love shine on her face

 

Long promenade, black iron choirs

of fat, thin, tall, short,

red, green, white pillars

flame with hope

 

outside people are passing by

one more door

 

Red walls, shining wood floor, bright lights,

a room full of things

 

Two long white glowing wedding dresses

sequins, embroidery, gathered stitching

cover silk petticoats and sheer linings

 

black sleeves touch white silk

a very short suit of black wool

young brother to accompany the bride?

stranger?

 

brass hooks hold

small shoes

plastic flowers

infant’s yellow bib

summery straw hat

with silk flowers around the crown

 

 

tiny girl’s starched pink dress

white rickrack pristine

no dribbles from a meal of applesauce.

 

past the corner more hooks

a shelf with

baskets

music box

chest with dark red velvet lining

Round another corner

more flowers

toys, photographs

crutches

 

sorrows

gratitude

 

 

A sign says

everything

all the objects

are left behind

 

and may yet be reclaimed