A Wreath of Down and Drops of Blood by Allen Braden

A Wreath of Down and Drops of Blood by Allen Braden is a slim collection of poems, published as part of the Virginia Quarterly Review Poetry Series, and is steeped in bird imagery and rural life.  His images are at once beautiful and raw, bringing with it the full force of nature’s unbridled beauty and fearsome nature.  Even the most beautiful images take on an aggressive persona, like the catalpa petals in “Remembering Precious Landscape, but with an Elegy in Mind” (page 9) that become “splayed.”

On the flip side, nature’s sexuality emerges as the narrator recounts love and precious moments between lovers.  In “Flight Theory” (Page 4-7), “How many nights did I try/to retrace the complexities/of starlings with my hands over her skin?/”  For this poem alone, the collection is worth buying.  The imagery is most vivid and charged here, creating a world that readers can get lost in.

Moments of rural life and childhood memories also grace these pages as the narrator of each poem takes the environment and personifies it with emotion.  The connection to a father, but the distance of that connection will make readers wonder how well they really know/knew their parents.  Also the dichotomy of love is present, with its passionate supportive nature and its violent passion that can render relationships asunder, leaving only pain and hate.

Braden has crafted variations of the sonnet in this collection, but readers who do not revel in form poetry may not notice the variation.  However, these varied sonnets continue the poet’s careful attention to detail to bring out the brute nature of humanity and to affirm our place in the natural world through carefully balanced language.  A Wreath of Down and Drops of Blood offers readers a look at humankind in its basest moments, highlighting those emotions we often feel when we are alone but never speak of in the presence of others, even those who love us best.

About the Poet:

Allen Braden is the recipient of a creative writing fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts and a residency from the Poetry Center and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. His poems have appeared in such publications as the Georgia Review, Prairie Schooner, Shenandoah, Virginia Quarterly Review, and Witness.


This is my 69th book for the 2011 New Authors Reading Challenge.



This is my 30th book for the Fearless Poetry Exploration Reading Challenge.

123rd Virtual Poetry Circle

Welcome to the 123rd Virtual Poetry Circle!

Remember, this is just for fun and is not meant to be stressful.

Keep in mind what Molly Peacock’s books suggested. Look at a line, a stanza, sentences, and images; describe what you like or don’t like; and offer an opinion. If you missed my review of her book, check it out here.

Also, sign up for the 2011 Fearless Poetry Reading Challenge because its simple; you only need to read 1 book of poetry. Please contribute to the growing list of 2011 Indie Lit Award Poetry Suggestions (please nominate 2011 Poetry), visit the stops on the National Poetry Month Blog Tour from April.

Today’s poem is from A Wreath of Down and Drops of Blood by Allen Braden:

Grinding Grain (page 36)

The belt, tight as a razor strop,
whips from tractor to hammer mill
and scares out of our grain bin an owl.
Welded pipe coughs flour into bags

stenciled H & H or Logan’s Feed & Seed.
I take another off my father’s hands,
another cinched with his square knot
better than any I used to tie.

Easily I buck those bags onto the stack
that shoulders the granary wall.
The air thickens this morning light
sifting around the blurred belt.

When I turn back, he’s gone
inside a cloud bank of flour
the way burlap can swallow
so many pounds of ground durum.

All our lives we work this way.
He sacks and ties.
I lift and stack.
Our bodies slowly growing white.

What do you think?

I’m Hosting Mailbox Monday #147

First, I would like to congratulate Emily on winning My God, What Have We Done? by Susan V. Weiss from the last Mailbox Monday giveaway.

Stay tuned for the next giveaway later on in the post, but for now, let’s get to this week’s post.

Mailbox Mondays (click the icon to check out the new blog) has gone on tour since Marcia at A Girl and Her Books, formerly The Printed Page passed the torch. Thanks to Amused by Booksfor hosting last month.

As host for this month, I have a couple giveaways planned, but mostly its about sharing books and the love of reading, so I hope in addition to leaving your post links in Mr. Linky that you’ll peek around Savvy Verse & Wit.

Kristi of The Story Siren continues to sponsor her In My Mailbox meme.

Both of these memes allow bloggers to share what books they receive in the mail or through other means over the past week.

Just be warned that these posts can increase your TBR piles and wish lists.

Here’s what I received this week:

1.  The World We Found by Thrity Umrigar from Harper for review in January.

2.  The Partnership by Philip Taubman from Harper for review in January.

3. A Wreath of Down and Drops of Blood by Allen Braden from the library sale.

4. A Double Death on the Black Isle by A.D. Scott from Atria.

Please add your mailbox link to the Mr. Linky below:

Now, for the giveaway for the week. Only those with U.S. addresses are eligible for a paperback version of Where Am I Going by Michelle Cromer.

Here’s a brief synopsis:

Part travel guide, part memoir, Where Am I Going? Moving From Religious Tourist to Spiritual Explorer takes the reader on a journey to finding this meaning in the same way that Michelle Cromer did for herself, through seven stages that connect each of us to the deepest part of our souls. This inspiring story of Michelle’s own quest for meaning in her life is a welcome departure from the typical preachy self-help book. Always spiritual, sometimes dangerous, often exotic, her search–as told by this funny, complex woman is a powerful lesson for anyone who also finally asks the Big Questions and begins their own spiritual journey and quest for purpose.

Also check out this book trailer.  Please leave a comment if you are interested in this book.