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The Light Between

Poems by Terry Blackhawk


Made in Michigan Writers Series

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Published: February 2012
ISBN: 9780814336144
Pages: 104 Size: 6x9
Published: February 2012
ISBN: 9780814336151

[This book is] a tonic, a triumph of the individual spirit...

— Hour Detroit, May 2012

In The Light Between, award-winning poet Terry Blackhawk probes beyond and through the painful dissolution of a long marriage to examine the complexities of love with bravery and delicacy. Mythical themes, elements of the natural world, and masculine/feminine polarities resonate throughout Blackhawk’s poems as she explores loss, the nature of relationships, and the integrity of the individual soul. Ultimately, The Light Between celebrates our connectedness to one another, to the planet, and to the natural world.

Section one opens as Blackhawk visits a lonely mythical kingdom and introduces images of an empty bed and the betrayed wife Medea, whose identification with nature signals one of the book’s main motifs. Section two presents deeply personal poems that flutter through time and lingering memories, while in section three, the gaze of the poet turns upward and outward to nature. Section four returns to the social world—to the street, traffic, visual art, and teaching—which poses the possibility of love once more. Section five celebrates the union of man and woman with some tender (and sometimes comical) love poems. Throughout, Blackhawk addresses heavy issues such as divorce and solitude, but also shows a playful side with lighthearted poems. She describes an imaginary meeting with poet laureate Billy Collins in one poem, and in another writes about finding a dried-up eggplant while sweeping the kitchen.

Whether writing about the intricacies of loss or our connection to nature and one another, she manages—like the speaker with the decayed fruit in "The Eggplant"—to "poke around and find the beauty of it." Students and teachers of writing and fans of poetry will enjoy this beautifully crafted collection.

Terry Blackhawk is the author of five previous poetry collections, including Escape Artist, winner of the 2002 John Ciardi Prize. She has received the Foley Poetry Prize, the Pablo Neruda Poetry Prize, the Michigan Governor’s Award for Arts Education, and grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs. She is founding director of Detroit’s acclaimed InsideOut Literary Arts Project and lives and writes not far from the river in Detroit, Michigan.

Terry Blackhawk's new collection, The Light Between, is an elegant meditation on loss and, in the aftermath of what is lost-relationships; certain sounds; an other, younger self-that which is gained. The intricate progression of these poems reveals the poet at work remembering and forgetting, then forging the thrilling slippages and figurative language that can make the mind leap to a new apprehension of things. Haunted by what can't be replaced-like 'lost sounds / trying to make themselves heard'-The Light Between is a graceful articulation of the persistence of language to give back to us a knowing reflection of ourselves."

– Natasha Trethewey, author of Native Guard

In this collection of new poems, The Light Between, her best book yet, Terry Blackhawk has found new words and a new world to wed herself to, a world made up of birdsong and 'new timbres of green, multiplicities / of green: green fronds in a green / wind, whole childhoods / of green.' Blackhawk sees the light between love and divorce, between newness and neutrality, and she has shaped it, she has given this light and this new language the fullness of her attention, the heft that has become this book. Blackhawk has found the song in the severing, the music in the mirage of marriage and its loss. 'What better use of sorrow than make a blossom of it?' This book is Blackhawk's breaking into blossom, it is her waltzing off with scars raised, her praise-song to greener pastures."

– Peter Markus, author of We Make Mud

Early in The Light Between the poet writes in the voice of an abandoned Medea berating the errant Jason-'I have no language / to replace what I have lost.' The courage and success of this book is its rediscovery of that necessary language. As the poet travels the country or moves through the streets of Detroit, she finds solace in the trees, birds, and people around her, until the 'half a song' heard alone on a New Year's Eve is absorbed by a celebratory and 'brightening silence.' It is the measure of Terry Blackhawk's skill that she carries us with her and convinces us of the importance of the journey."

– Keith Taylor, author of If the World Becomes So Bright (Wayne State University Press, 2009)

With a prolific poetry catalog behind her, Terry Blackhawk has made quite a name for herself in contemporary poetry. The Light Between is her latest volume of work that explores her thoughts on the nature of the world and how we all come to understand it. With much to ponder with its own beautiful verse, The Light Between is a choice and very much recommended pick.

– James A. Cox, The Midwest Book Review

[This book is] a tonic, a triumph of the individual spirit.

– Hour Detroit, May 2012