Monday, December 9, 2013

Spotlight on Alaska Books: Unbound, by Katie Eberhart

Still Life With Vegetables

Not a tradition. Yet. Or is it
a one-time shot where initial conditions of dirt
(a continuous factor)
and H - 2 - O from the sky combine to produce
magnificent roots that achieve colors like vermilion,
creamy buckskin, and opaque amber.
Colors that I cannot shake,
the firmness of flesh engorged by rain-soaked soil
so that a carrot eased out of the earth
in a reversal of up not down
just touching it, the pressure of soft fingers—
it snaps like rocks fracturing
far up a valley. I hold
a broken star.

Still life with root vegetables, the image I cradle
more than a recipe—an entire history
food    fire
roots dug mud-caked with cold feet.

My still-life smells of musky ground and heavy names
like Bull's Blood and Saint Valery. The beet yields,

knife-cleaved into alternating rings
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
(Unbound: Alaska Poems by Katie Eberhart)

The poems in Unbound: Alaska Poems come from my experience living in Alaska. A poem is likely to start with an observation (“Shiny cottonwood leaves covet the tulip’s flaming blush, a blush is not a bush, a bush might be brush. . . .”) and include people (“Cutting and bagging. Bagging and calculating. Always calculating.”) as well as an observation of our often delicate relationship with nature (“A spider steps out of the crack and looks at / the obscene destruction. . . .”). Influences include Hans Christian Andersen, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Gertrude Stein, Alaskan composer John Luther Adams, the Ice Museum at Chena Hot Springs, and a neighbor’s loose pony. After reading these poems, you may think differently of backyard freezing and thawing or the three miles of street lighting along the Glenn Highway across the Palmer Hay Flats. My concerns are with understanding our relationship with our surroundings—from bones and ice to hot springs, berry-picking, root vegetables, the Palmer water tower, misplaced or cast off items, Nature, and luck.

“‘Sometimes there aren’t enough other worlds,’ Katie Eberhart writes, and so we pay close attention to this one. We dry-scrub silver lichens off old barn walls in the Matanuska Valley of Alaska. We consider in the last decades of our lives a granite tor’s gradual crumbling. We watch for trees blazed long ago, the trail marked ten feet high. Sensual and meditative, Katie Eberhart’s poems light our way.” —Peggy Shumaker, author of Toucan Nest

“In these ‘frozen dreams,’ Alaska is both emotional geography and physical landscape. Ice flow to cave sounds, Katie Eberhart uses experimental forms to mirror a vast range of experience as she finds her own ‘quicksilver light.’” —Judith Kitchen, author of Half in Shade

Katie Eberhart lived in Alaska with her husband Chuck Logsdon from 1979 through 2011 where she worked as a researcher, economist, and data analyst. In 2010, Katie earned her MFA in Creative Writing from the Rainier Writing Workshop at Pacific Lutheran University. Katie’s poems have appeared in Cirque, Sand Journal (Berlin), Crab Creek Review, Verseweavers, Elohi Gadugi Journal, and other places. Katie and Chuck now live in Bend, Oregon where Katie has earned an Oregon Master Naturalist certificate and blogs about Nature & Literature at Unbound: Alaska Poems was published in 2013 by Uttered Chaos Press. Katie is a member of 49 Writers.

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