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Fleur-de-Lis Press is pleased to announce
the publication of Seeking the Other Side by Jane Olmsted. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to order. $16.
I know this hole, but how?/I have to kneel to look through," writes Jane Olmsted in her powerful collection, Seeking the Other Side. The "hole" quoted refers to the literal cavity that has caught her attention, yet Olmsted's looking at the negative space of a great loss, too—a loss that must be lived with, if not understood. This poet ruptures the cliche, asking "Would the glass remain half-full if a fist/ripped out the heart and settled/into that slippery absence?" There are no answers metaphor or pathetic fallacy can provide, only more thoughtfully shaped questioning, "habits of noticing," "strange pronunciations/of familiar places." Poems about memory, loss, and the self's adjustments are collected with poems about trees and the forms of trees, which provide arms and roots to what feels devastatingly vacant. In life as in thought, "there is cavity involved," yet, as this poet makes beautifully clear, there is form and shape and listening: "if you have no answer,/ go then to the lonely place—/I will meet you there.
–Lisa Williams, author of Gazelle in the House
Electric with love and grief, the poems in Jane Olmsted’s Seeking the Other Side bear witness to what we might think unspeakable: the murder of the poet’s twenty-year-old son. But they bear witness to life as well, from the oak tree outside her Kentucky window to the bristlecone pine by Chaos Creek in Colorado. So deep is her relationship to nature that she writes herself into that oak tree, feels the roar of its cambium and the “tubes of xylem” fill her spine. In the final poem, a requiem, she takes on the wind-twisted torque of the pine as she reaches for her lost son “until the winds/have turned me full/and then it is I who turn the winds.” Inhabiting the mythic and the forensic, immeasurable loss and precise post mortem calculations, Olmsted’s poems stand up to the terrible facts of her son’s death, her struggle to survive it and to behold him whole in memory, dream, and through “a sacred portal between this world and / this same world made better.
–George Ella Lyon, author of Many-Storied House
Born out of the heartbreak that accompanies a devastating personal loss, these poems transcend the personal and reach for the other side of grief, seeking "a crackling testament to our joy." Mourning her youngest son, Casey, taken suddenly and senselessly from her and from this life, Jane Olmsted unflinchingly shows us "how a nanosecond can hold a swirling cosmos of befores and durings and afters." These are, ultimately, poems that celebrate, savor, and affirm life.
–Tom C. Hunley, author of Plunk
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