This week’s other featured book, “Listen,” by Francesca Varela, can be found by scrolling down below this post, along with the First Tuesday Replay. Or just click the author’s name on our Authors page.
THE BOOK: Echolocation
PUBLISHED IN: 2018
THE AUTHOR: Kristin Berger
THE EDITOR: Sandra Klevin & Michael Burwell
THE PUBLISHER: Cirque Press, and imprint of Cirque: A Literary Journal for Alaska and the Pacific Northwest.
SUMMARY: From both the visible and invisible margins of life, from the Oregon forest to high desert, from lake to river, the poems of Echolocation, by Kristin Berger, seek to reconcile memory and loss with a world still very much alive and beating. In a time of diminishing truth and light, this book locates beauty and holds space for its returning.
THE BACK STORY: Echolocation was written over the course of 18 months, from the autumn of 2016 to the summer of 2018, drawing it’s landscapes from my home-ground of the Oregon Cascades and the High Desert, and as far-roaming as the Senoran Desert and Mt. Lemmon. But the book didn’t begin to take shape until the winter of 2018. Cirque Journal editors, Sandy Klevin and Mike Burwell, had put the call out to previous Cirque contributors for manuscripts to be published in their new press – I knew they would take good care with the poems, had a wide and loyal readership, and would support the publication with readings and publicity. And it seemed like a perfect way to help support an independent small press launching itself into the big literary world.
WHY THIS TITLE?: One of the book’s themes is being lost or invisible, what happens to memory and love, and how we find each other, like a river finding the surface after disappearing. Species that navigate that darkness and find their food and each other have always been totems of sorts: bats, moths, nightjars, whales, wolves. We send our signals out and wait for replies, our bodies wait, in disrepair and repair, and orient ourselves to new paths – sometimes those paths double back and history repeats. Love not lost after all.
WHY WOULD SOMEONE WANT TO READ IT? If you want like lyrical poetry rooted in nature – which is all of it: roads and cigarettes in the ditch, backyards and mountain lakes, strip malls and lemon trees – that also tells a story, then you might find some poems here that you connect with. That might tell part of your story.
“If we have forgotten that poetry is a call sent out into the world to rediscover and name our hearts, minds, and bodies, Kristin Berger’s beautiful new book of poems reminds us of poetry’s good and necessary work. Berger’s Echolocation leads us into that work, honestly and elegantly inviting us to know our own lives and landscapes.” — Annie Lighthart, author of Lantern and Iron String
“Echolocation hovers over the earth as bat, as moon, as astronaut. Hope for the future flutters like prayer flags, “How does the earth tilt towards a deaf darkness while the body, somewhere, aches towards bloom?” Only Berger seems to be able to hold this tension, this unknowing, so deftly throughout her luminous book. Berger convinces us that the world is always on fire and love is the rain. “Let’s inhale this rare thing, like a blessing,” she pleads. “We need hearts in various stages of repair and despair to keep the world beating.” In every page of Echolocation Berger sings the moment into its full beauty, and we hold our chests thankful, hoping.” — Claudia F. Savage, author of Bruising Continents
“In Kristin Berger’s words you will find an almost archetypal love story— between the speaker and her beloved and between the lovers and the natural world. Berger tells us that, “to love like this/ [you have to] know how to kneel in the ruins, like children, unfound and pleased.” The exquisite descriptions of natural phenomena lend a lushness to the poems’ stark truths. Absorbed, with the speaker, in the intense pain of love ending, the reader will believe the sorrowful news that “[w]e may never get what we want in this lifetime.” And yet the beauty that permeates these pages will inspire her to go on.”– Ann Tweedy, author of The Body’s Alphabet
“Kristin Berger’s Echolocation is ‘pastoral’ in the sense ascribed to Elizabethan drama. It portrays the natural world as a stage that ornaments and is infused by grand love affairs. Readers who want their poetic romances anchored in vivid, concrete imagery won’t be disappointed. But others who seek deft concision and memorable phrasing will be more pleased. For all the poems’ intuitive appositions and palimpsests, Berger doesn’t just build intriguing lists of things. Instead, she cunningly evokes intimate experience and sensibility with ‘namings of parts’, in the manner Henry Reed employed…Berger’s Echo has a tremendous power to put us in the throes of a love that has already become natural history.” — Manny Blacksher, Poetry Editor for Light: A Journal of Photography and Poetry
AUTHOR PROFILE: Kristin Berger is the author of the poetry collections Echolocation (Cirque Press, 2018), How Light Reaches Us (Aldrich Press, 2016), For the Willing (Finishing Line Press, 2008), and Refugia, published in the spring of 2019 by Persian Pony Press. She is the former editor of VoiceCatcher, a non-profit that publishes and promotes Portland-area women writers and artists. Her long prose-poem and collaboration with printmaker Diane Sandall, Changing Woman & Changing Man: A High Desert Myth will be published in 2019/2020. She lives in Portland, Oregon, where she co-hosts the Lents Farmers Market Poetry Series, which has brought over 40 local emerging and established poets to the street. http://www.kristinberger.me
AUTHOR COMMENTS: With this book, I hoped to be honest, use language in new ways, stretch myself poetically and also enlarge my heart. To be present with pain and beauty. To witness what’s possible through poetry, and underneath it.
Let’s work this out in the dark.
I find you, you find me.
A snapshot under a streetlight’s warm brim,
small furred mouths taking
moth bodies whole.
Intimacy is blood in the pitched chambers,
trace and return, the long-foretold
figure-eight of oxygenated rush.
It requires blind faith.
Work and pump and beat—
See where the heart strikes the scaffolding of ribs,
its shape as clear as a rubied bell,
clapper suspended like a bird
waiting for its note to fly back?
(first published in Santa Ana River Review, Jan. 2018)
LOCAL OUTLETS: (in Portland, Oregon) Another Read Through, Mother Foulcault’s Bookstore, Like Nobody’s Business
WHERE ELSE TO BUY IT: My website (signed) http://www.kristinberger.me; Amazon
PRICE: $15 list
CONTACT THE AUTHOR: firstname.lastname@example.org