In this series, we highlight books we think our readers may enjoy, written by authors affiliated with the Collegeville Institute.
Finishing Line Press, 2019
By Susan Baller-Shepard, former workshop participant
Doe emerges as a poetry collection from Midwestern writer Susan Baller-Shepard who uses the metaphoric domain of a female deer to launch into topics of parenting, witnessing a grandparent’s farm sale, contemplating birds and bees and the natural world. Deer enter and exit quietly. Does observe, sensitive to their environment, often pushed to the edges of it. Baller-Shepard’s nature poems have an edge as they work this margin, and you’ll find yourself reading it, backtracking, advancing again in the collection. Incorporated into this corpus are form poems, pantoums, villanelles, a sonnet. Doe ponders spiritual questions as it moves toward “Paraclete,” the thing with feathers.
The Comstock Review, 2019
By Lauren K. Carlson, former writing workshop participant
Animals I Have Killed is both feral and domestic. With lines stark, vulnerable, or even rapturous, Lauren K. Carlson has composed a solid and mature debut reminding readers that childhood is the first wilderness we explore, a wilderness of fluorescent salmon eggs, goat funerals, floundering beehives, daughter-song, Easter-chocolate binges and many kinds of hunger. The chapbook creates a world where the Holy Spirit is ‘dark, moving, water,’ where even through any flaw has grace, ‘it’s hard not to be Judas-minded.’ Like her grandfather’s tollekniv, these poems ‘strike deep’ to find the heart wood at, in this case, an illumination of spirit.
Lost Horse Press, 2019
By Shann Ray, former workshop participant
The poems in Sweetclover detail love, wilderness, fracture, and fusion. They speak of wildflowers, the slant of a collarbone, the flight feathers of predatory birds, and the eye of winter. American Book Award–winner Shann Ray’s affinity for Montana landscapes and the intimate heart of the beloved challenges the age of enragement with delight in those we are graced to know. Sweetclover honors marriage through individual and collective interpretations of the body in movement, silent, vocal, ethereal, muscular, transcendent. Sweetclover posits the marriage bed beyond nihilism, where God speaks and lovers believe in absorbing the shadow, and finding their way to new life.
Paraclete Press, 2019
By Christine Valters Paintner, former workshop participant
Dreaming of Stones is the first collection of poems by author Christine Valters Paintner, which draws upon her time living in Ireland these last few years. The poems are informed by the stories told by the landscape and by the saints, as well as by other enduring things like time, love, and wildness. These are poems that can be read for personal solace and inspiration or shared in gatherings with other seeking souls. Christine wrote these poems out of a practice of lectio divina, or sacred reading of the world, inspired by her commitment to contemplative rhythms as a Benedictine oblate.