Pages: 80 Size: 6x9
Visceral and brimming with vitality, the poems in Premonitions reverberate with the voice of a woman on a secluded farm, confronting her emotional and physical isolation. Drawing on her own experience as a daughter of a third-generation fruit farmer, Elizabeth Schmuhl gives readers a fresh and powerful perspective on what it means to be alive.
Layering one upon another, the poems blur boundaries and create a volatile state out of which the remarkable and unexpected occur. Embracing chaos, change, and unpredictability, these poems are energetically charged and infused with succinct, imagistic language. They reach beyond the constraints assigned to the female form and examine a place where time, the body, sexuality, and the natural world are not fixed. At times surreal, at others painfully real, the poems in Premonitions are the expression of a human life that merges and melds with the world around it, acting and reacting, loving and despairing, disintegrating and rebuilding. The speaker travels fluidly between strata of the natural world and her own body. Adding to the complexity of her poems, Schmuhl creates additional layers of meaning as the poems and their titles relate to the author’s synesthesia, a sensory phenomenon through which letters and numbers are experienced as colors and emotions.
Premonitions will turn the reader inward, encouraging the examination of the small details of life and a growing acceptance of the perpetual turmoil and uncertainty of existence despite our own desire to find a firm footing. This volume will be prized by lovers of contemporary poetry and literature alike.
There’s an orchard in these poems. And a river. A farmhouse. Ghosts. Ants and birds and coyotes. Somewhere off in the distance is a lake. There is a body dancing in and through these places and these poems. It contains an imagination that explodes outward, even as it gently brings everything inside. There is no one way to summarize these evocative Premonitions: you can only read your way into them, then stop and savor the place you’ve come to. I know of nothing else like them.
– Keith Taylor, author of The Bird-while (Wayne State University Press, 2017)
Premonitions is a collection by a poet we’ve waited to read, and who’s both come to us in these meditations softly and with unforgettable force. Elizabeth Schmuhl is a poet of deceptive subtlety, so this is a book one will return to over and over again—as one does to each line and each page—to discover further depths, to re-appreciate an image, to be startled by the power of these musical discoveries. Like songs, like spells, like prayers, like ghosts glimpsed in the corner of an eye, we are alarmed and charmed and changed by this poetry. This poet has transformed experience into substance and then transformed that substance into breath and dream. This collection is the debut of an important new voice.
– Laura Kasischke, author of The Infinitesimals
Premonitions accumulates a haunting record of a speaker subsumed into the necessary madness of nature, a nature whose cycles of proliferation and death, the rhythms of day and night and those of the seasons, constitute a psychic and bodily drama staggeringly rendered through Schmuhl’s lyric voice. These are poems of isolation and the spirit of place, and there is no question that they make an important contribution to the regional literatures of the Midwest as well as the vibrant canons of contemporary poetry and lyric prose at large.
– Ryo Yamagucki, author of The Refusal of Suitors
Poem after brilliant poem bears witness to the collapse of the boundaries between her body and the land that surrounds it. Like the river winding through this book, Schmuhl remakes herself before our eyes. Premonitions is a reminder that in our modern era of distraction, our bodies always have a place in the world of ten thousand things.
– Tomás Morin, author of Patient Zero
This poetry is very much of the earth. Its got dirt under its fingernails. The narrator and the landscape at times seem to meld into one.
– Judson Hamilton, Queen Mob's Teahouse
I think Premonitions is about living in real life, feeling disconnected from all the surrounding life, and feeling comfortable with and becoming part of the earth. Offerings of bodies are made to the earth: the speaker’s body, the body of a slaughtered dove, still bloody and beating. Berries are smeared on the flesh bodies get covered with leaves. There is a loneliness that rings through the collection, a desire to disappear from the present form and become enmeshed with the natural and the wild.
– Alexandra Naughton, The Fanzine
Schmuhl's poems are quick-hitting, but long-lasting. Reading this collection made us want to spend more time outside, to roll around in the dirt, to grow things, to get up and dance (and we do not EVER want to dance).
– Dan Wickett, Emerging Writers Network
2019 Eric Hoffer Book Awards - Result: First Horizon Award Finalist