Pages: 96 Size: 6.5x8
Memory should not be called knowledge, Keats wrote, and yet in Chris Dombrowski's patient hands, the memory of the natural world is knowledge indeed.
— Ilya Kaminsky
The second full-length collection from award-winning poet Chris Dombrowski, Earth Again transports readers to an imaginative world where identity is explored and expanded. With a mixture of long poems and shorter pieces, Dombrowski probes birth, death, sex, memory, and our blessed but treacherous engagement with the natural world. While he writes from a number of points of view and employs both male and female speakers, much of the collection's singular insight centers around masculine identity and being a husband and a father. Readers come away transformed, "like the land / gasping as it does each late winter evening when / the sky at tree line, nearly sapphiric, goes black," as these poems prove Dombrowski to be a truly original American voice.
Comprised of three sections—each of which concludes with a long poem—Earth Again presents a range of narrative and emotions in dexterous rhythms, unexpected shifts, and unforgettable metaphors. Dombrowksi introduces readers to arresting images like "the parataxis of her ass," "cerulean, alchemical light," "Molly with the sun in her mouth," and "labyrinthine, lanky-stemmed, dew-magnified" leaves. These details combine with Dombrowski's note-perfect language, which alternates between the most colloquial and the most elevated of diction. Readers will be challenged to consider spirituality alongside Scooby-Doo Band-aids, and to meditate on death after the mower has chewed up a plastic dinosaur, as Dombrowski revels in exploring our connection to the environment and one another.
Fans of Dombrowski's previous collection, By Cold Water (which was noted as a contemporary poetry bestseller by the Poetry Foundation in 2009), along with other poets and poetry lovers will appreciate the attention to detail and the imaginative intensity of the poems in Earth Again.
Missoula has a well-earned reputation for its high density of successful prose writers, but it's not too shabby in the per-capita poet department, either. That certainly has something to do with our thriving arts culture, and perhaps also the fact that most careers in this town are as difficult to monetize as that of the poet elsewhere–so there comes a built-in, community-wide wellspring of empathy. Still, and with apologies to the many fine working local poets, past and present, it can be argued that Missoula hasn't had a transcendent poet of place since the immortal Richard Hugo passed away in 1982.
That may be changing. Chris Dombrowski, a Michigan-born poet who fell in love with Missoula upon moving here in 1999, has just released Earth Again, his second full-length book of poetry. It's a stunning work, rife with gorgeous images of Western lives and landscapes, imbued with a hardscrabble perception that will be instantly recognized by those who have committed their lives and families to this most demanding of paradises.
– Nick Davis, Missoula Independent
Chris Dombrowski's second full-length collection, Earth Again, is difficult to summarize, but startlingly familiar. In it, the earth—our known world—is described both as a physical place where our often-banal lives play out, and also a dream-like world we may have collectively imagined into existence. The collection contains both short and long poems, all of which seem to explicitly or implicitly ask the reader to consider nature and humanity; just how separate are we from the world in which we live?
– Kay Cosgrove, Green Mountains Review
Not just for nature lovers, Earth Again is one of the most beautiful books of poetry I have read in years. Musically, deftly, sharply, it deals with birth, sex, death, and so much in between, with a light touch that includes comedy, fantasy, satire, somehow magically in the service of deep meaning, deep feeling. Dombrowski is heir to Galway Kinnell, writing of the everyday--unforgettably.
– Alicia Ostriker
Earth Again is an arresting, beautiful collection of poems. Chris Dombrowski is musical and intellectual in equal measure, and the poems here are memorable in every way—surprising and strange, moving and alarming, delightful and frightening. This is important new work.
– Laura Kasischke
Memory should not be called knowledge, Keats wrote, and yet in Chris Dombrowski's patient hands, the memory of the natural world is knowledge indeed. This poet knows how to witness snow galloping headlong in grains, and lets us, readers, see vividly how the geese peel off the sewage treatment settling pond like strewn clutch of change. Who knows this? The one mind of woods. What is the knowledge? It is what lets us see buff-colored moth, tracings of wingscales on pane, ledger of its last minutes. Why is it important? Because we had to stop what we were doing / to see what we had done. This is a generous, clear-eyed, lyricism. The wisdom of one who sees a flying object and says it could be a helicopter or archangel. Beautiful poems.
– Ilya Kaminsky
I admire these clear and exquisite images drawn from the landscape, their fusion of intelligence and feeling. Chris Dombrowski descends from the best of our nature poets: John Haines, Jeffers and Wordsworth. Earth Again is a lovely, lovely book.
– Dorianne Laux
I read and reread these urgent, burning poems, I found myself underlining and starring and scribbling down not only kneebuckling images and turns of phrase, but commandments and questions to live by. I wept reading this book. I was wrecked reading this book.
– Joe Wilkins, Orion
An anonymous, Middle-English lyric from the early 14th century goes, in one modern English version, like this: Earth took of earth earth with ill; / Earth other earth gave earth with a will. / Earth laid earth in the earth stock-still: / Then earth in earth had of earth its fill. Chris Dombrowski's Earth Again calls to mind the elemental (and existential) mouthful contained in this early, four-line lyric. What we might make of earth (again and again—materially and imaginatively) is set in ultimate relation to what earth will make of us. Composition and decomposition are not opposites; together they constitute our most mysterious singularity. This is our vale of soul-making, as Keats, a presiding spirit in this collection, called it. Dombrowski's own vale is as ample as it is precise, as wide-reaching as it is achingly, lovingly intimate. Like a photographer whose chosen depth of field comprehends the 'first poppy . . . in the backyard's palm'—as sharply as the peak on the looming horizon—Dombrowski apprentices himself, again and again, to feeling the earth precisely, whether glorying or grieving, or caught in their impassable coincidence. I am wowed by his courage and his care. Nothing escapes his scrutiny, least of all the medium of his own imperfect heart. EARTH AGAIN. We are here to be schooled, to be shaken from our grossest, and even our smallest forms of negligence. Dombrowski is a poet of conscience. A river-guide in every sense. A psalmist overcoming a cynic. We are fortunate, I think, to have this kind of poet still among us.
– Sarah Gridley
Chris Dombrowski's new book, Earth Again, is extraordinarily powerful and graceful.
– Jim Harrison
In Earth Again, Chris Dombrowski taps into our collective fears about the future of the planet and the ways in which we can and cannot connect as humans with the natural world. The magnificence of Earth Again is that every poem seems to emerge from the very dirt, the very ground on which Dombrowski walks. Unlike many collections these days, which muse on nature and ecology from a great remove, this book gives us a speaker unafraid to sing to us from the middle of the woods, his hands covered in the stuff of this world he loves.
– James Crews, Prairie Schooner
2014 Independent Publisher's Book Award - Result: Tied for Bronze Medal in the category of Poetry
2014 ForeWord Book of the Year Award - Result: Winner of the Silver Medal in the category of Poetry