The Last Place I Lived by K. Alma Peterson
|The Last Place I Lived||K. Alma Peterson||BlazeVOX [books]|
One of the early poems in this book concludes: “My wild side would like to know.” If yours would too, read The Last Place I Lived. The collection abounds in wit and verbal play, yet the reward in reading comes from an intelligence lodged deep, directing the lines in sophisticated ways, the “afterimage // glassily repeated in the hawk’s beveled eye.” K. Alma Peterson knows what to leave out—an ability to inventively compress language is one of her gifts. In context, the lines “let me / cut you an armful” so clearly offer both the neighbor’s flowers as well as the neighbor’s tenderness. These poems inhabit dead trees, rabbits lurking inside of magic hats, and high clouds. Through the unexpected, they explore the human, sometimes isolated, sometimes searching or sharing, “losing more / trailed wisps of self in billows.” A “dust-to-dust anxiety” recurs throughout; death is even a way of connecting to family in the memorable poem “Collective Sense of Sleep.” The book’s themes never overtake their delight in language (“Murphy has a law and a bed in the wall”). The poetry seems to move forward at the request of sound, providing a sense of inevitability though this is clearly surprising as well as accomplished work.
—Julie Funderburk, author of The Door that Always Opens, LSU Press
In this deeply textured book, K. Alma Peterson’s playful, brilliant language counterpoints very serious matter—the blunt fissures of survival and pain, creating a tension and energy that drives these poems. They might feel like sleight of hand but are really transformative, like alchemy. She sums it up best herself: “…straddling the gap between tame/art and reckless science, they play dangerously//turning experimentation into evidence…” (Trains Derail in the Deepest Woods and We Take Positions We Cannot Defend.) It is stunning work, and it makes you want to sing.
— John Minczeski, author of A Letter to Serafin, University of Akron Press
K. Alma Peterson’s new collection, The Last Place I Lived, begins with Rilke’s words as epigraph: Go into yourself and see how deep the place is from which your life flows. Here are some of Peterson’s places: the circus, the body, in its flesh and as a work of art, the beach, a narrator in rehabilitation and in yoga class, inside the mind of the narrator where language spills, torques, makes the whole world unfamiliar—“a gardener’s heart lies bleeding,/her whip in petals. Pity, its own/nemesis…”, inside the persona of the state of Florida, inside “ Memory’s jagged coast”---all these places, and more. Suffering has happened…it echoes in images that come and go, some in surreal poems, some in poems where we readers may feel a bit more grounded. We keep checking these poems to make sure we are keeping communion with the spirit who created them. A life has happened…keeps happening, and the narrator in these vivid, surprising poems tells us, “The last place I lived, I mean/really lived, was a treehouse in a strangler/fig. An entire graveyard of them/yellowing and shedding//everything but light./ I held a lantern//for that purpose, to that end.” Yes, some extraordinary light in this collection, the poet holding the lantern with great authority to grant vision.
—Deborah Keenan, author of ten collections of poems, and, from tiger to prayer, a book of writing ideas.
K. Alma Peterson is a graduate of the Warren Wilson MFA Program for Writers. Her poems have been widely published in print and online journals. She is the author of Was There No Interlude When Light Sprawled the Fen, BlazeVOX Books, 2010. She lives in Minnesota and Florida. She also is occasionally given to bursts of experimentation with printmaking, painting and drawing.
· Paperback: 84 pages
· Binding: Perfect-Bound
· Publisher: BlazeVOX [books]
· ISBN: 978-1-60964-197-9