Thursday, March 12, 2015

Spotlight on Alaska Books: Overwinter, by Jeremy Pataky


You wore shorefast ice,
birds were starting,
spring high water
was still white snow
in mountains.
Ice still rimmed your banks.
We would come to know gibbous light.
We would come to know snow light.
We would come to know ice light, star, animal
light, window light, want light,
sweat light. We’d know the light of the river rippling
shadows on the shadows. We’d know
candid light, we’d know dinner light and laughter light,
we’d know light off the underside of owl wings,
melt light and the light of the woods,
the light of letters, light of the dash
and the strange feathers of baleen on blank walls.
We’d know rain light and dream light. We’d know the peaceful
light of a single morning, we’d know the
thick light beneath the bridge. We’d know
the light of our clamor to belong in all light,
we’d know bluegrass light
and aquatic light, tundra light, intermountain light and
the light of surprise—
I know iceless light of you,
winter light, spring light, speech light of you, light of seeing you, memory light,
photograph, ache light, light of one of these days, light of so much left to say,
light of one day, light of one night
and one morning, light of one day. 

from Overwinter by Jeremy Pataky 

Jeremy Pataky's debut book of poetry, Overwinter, was published by University of Alaska Press in the Alaska Literary Series. The collection measures familial and romantic love against the wildness of the far North and the self. Remote settings provide both a solace and challenge where the speaker's aloneness resists loneliness in full, and fully imagined, places. This is not a static vision, though; the present harkens back to a verdant but distant past. Nor is it a silent world. These poems reconcile the natural quiet and sounds of wilderness with the clamor of built environments. Pataky lives this contrast, migrating seasonally between Anchorage and Wrangell-St. Elias National Park. These poems bridge the urban and rural, unifying them through an eros that is by turns fevered and serene. The book is haunted by all those the poet has loved, and they survive in the hidden places sculpted by language.

“Emerson suggests that ‘genius is the activity that repairs the decay of things.’ Such genius is at work in Jeremy Pataky’s debut, Overwinter. Easy to forget that the effort of utmost attention is itself a mystical practice—as if to name all that in the world can be named might restore to truest existence. But the honest poet knows that the repair of the world also requires the brute work of recognizing also those forces of erosion, some necessary, some less so. Pataky is just such an honest poet, thank goodness, for all of us who dwelling in the world also want it to be real, and in whose poems we find an opportunity to become more real ourselves.” —Dan Beachy-Quick, author of Circle's Apprentice                                                       
Jeremy Pataky earned an MFA in poetry from the University of Montana. His work has appeared in Colorado ReviewBlack Warrior ReviewCirqueIce FloeThe Southeast Review, and many others. He has worked as a wilderness guide, nonprofit executive director, university instructor, and after school poetry teacher. He is a founding board member of 49 Writers. He divides his time between Anchorage and the town of McCarthy, in Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and works as a consultant with an emphasis in arts and culture. Overwinter is available now in paperback and will be available in eBook format soon. Learn more at, including dates for appearances on his upcoming book tour. The book will be launched in Anchorage on Friday, March 13th, at Hugi-Lewis Studios starting at 6:30 pm, followed shortly thereafter by a week of events in Southeast Alaska, including a 49 Writers class in Juneau.

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