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Where the Wolf by Sally Rosen Kindred

Source: the poet
Paperback, 80 pgs.
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Where the Wolf by Sally Rosen Kindred has a Grimm’s fairy tale feel in which the wolf features prominently, looming over each poem and jumping in unexpectedly. In “First Night,” the wolf can only find the narrator and her family because of the dark, a darkness caused by deep despair, desperation, and the over consumption of alcohol. It is clear that the relationship between the narrator and her mother is broken and by the time the book ends it cannot be repaired as her mother is deep in Alzheimer’s.

Although there is darkness in this collection, it is an exploration of what connects us to our family despite those secrets and dark moments. In “Is She,” “You think this is a poem where the wolf./The forest, after all, is a sleeve of glass daggers./You: the girl. Cold throat, wet shoes./Wolf is the ghost of a hurt remembering itself. Is She. You can hear Her between the trees./” (pg. 10) Readers will fall into the forest with the wolf as she stalks the past, looking for answers that don’t materialize. It’s more about the journey and accepting the past for what it is, how it shapes you, and how you move into the future with it.

The Grief Dress (pg. 38)

....
Could I have asked

for mercy then, forgiveness, could I have
unfastened the buttons of my breath?
....

Isn’t this what happens when we finally learn to let go of grief, loss, and pain? We unbutton ourselves, give ourselves permission to breath again and release all of that pressure inside us. Kindred takes us and herself on a journey through the dark forest and some of her darkest dreams to release the pressure she’s been carrying. Where the Wolf by Sally Rosen Kindred is harrowing in its exploration of memory, grief, and the passage of time, but it is redemptive in that it allows readers to see the poet make peace with the past.

RATING: Quatrain

Mailbox Monday #637

Mailbox Monday has become a tradition in the blogging world, and many of us thank Marcia of The Printed Page for creating it.

It now has it’s own blog where book bloggers can link up their own mailbox posts and share which books they bought or which they received for review from publishers, authors, and more.

Velvet, Martha, and I also will share our picks from everyone’s links in the new feature Books that Caught Our Eye. We hope you’ll join us.

This is what we received:

Escape Velocity by Kristin Kowalski Ferragut, which I purchased.

A courageous testament, lush with startling imagery, Kristin Kowalski Ferragut’s Escape Velocity focuses on the personal in order to illuminate the universal. “Truth leaves words in shambles,” Ferragut cautions us. Nevertheless, “All the days in this long life / fill with such wonder of / words . . .” With each poem standing on its own as a singular story, taken as a whole, this premier collection takes the reader on an Odyssey, unsettling at times, tender at others, through memory and loss, forward with strength and resilience to confront “This love of what grows wild flowers . . . erratic, uncertain, hard to stare down.” The laws of physics cannot constrain this poet’s quest; the reader will be rewarded for accompanying her on the journey. —W. Luther Jett, Author of Everyone Disappears, Our Situation, and Not Quite

“I challenge you to / Unzip your skin and see / if you make it to the West Coast. / Exactly.” In Escape Velocity , Kristin Kowalski Ferragut invites us to experience the moments that make a life with finely honed wording and well-crafted stanzas that awaken every sense, often in unexpected ways. With deep compassion, she delves into relationships with family, loves and loves lost, the joys and sorrows that come with the bits and pieces that make a life and give us our sense of where we are in the world, sprinkled with delectable moments of wry humor. This exquisite debut poetry collection takes us beyond our usual understanding of self and place in a “rare conversation that matters.” —Lucinda Marshall, Founder and Host of DiVerse Gaithersburg Poetry Reading and Author of Inheritance Of Aging Self

Kristin Kowalski Ferragut sends us “Whirling / in our individual little confoundations,” as she reconciles the collective discord we face. She shoulders such universal themes as grief, love, and grace in a uniquely flawless dance. In “Unbearable Lightness” she muses, “We anchor ourselves in burdens, lost causes . . . to keep from floating away.” In lines like this, Ferragut startles us from our safe repose to experience the jeopardy and promise of motion; to believe in second chances and in our ability to “put the blood back / in the stone.” —Alison Palmer, Author of The Need for Hiding

Where the Wolf  by Sally Rosen Kindred for review.

Sally Rosen Kindred’s third book, Where the Wolf, is a wood where a girl-turned-woman, a daughter-turned-mother, goes walking, searching for the warm fur, the hackles and hurts—past and future—inside her. These poems explore how stories—fairy tales, family memories, myths, and dreams—tell us, and let us tell each other, who we are, and what’s wild and sacred in our connections. From “the beast your mother made/ who scans hood and bed,” to the ghost-guard summoned by a child on the night her family fractures, to the teenage son who transforms into “beauty, his dread-body,” the beings in these poems are themselves stories, spells: alchemized through language, always becoming, bearing hope and loss. They fragment in anxiety, and form into new wilderness. They open themselves to reconstruction, redemption. Through it all, “Wolf is the ghost of a hurt remembering itself. Is She. You can hear Her between trees.” These poems are a calling out—through meadows, emptied houses, dark skies—to wolf and self, parent and child, girl and woman, love and grief.

What did you receive?