Friday Poem – ‘Karner Blue’ by Carrie Etter

This week’s Friday Poem is ‘Karner Blue’ by Carrie Etter which appears in 100 Poems to Save the Earth and her collection The Weather in Normal.

100 Poems to Save the Earth. Edited by Zoë Brigley and Kristian Evans

Our climate is on the brink of catastrophic change. 100 Poems to Save the Earth invites us to fine-tune our senses, to listen to the world around us, pay attention to what we have been missing. The defining crisis of our time is revealed to be fundamentally a crisis of perception. For too long, the earth has been exploited. With its incisive Foreword, this landmark anthology is a call to action to fight the threat facing the only planet we have. 

These achingly beautiful poems… remind us how to refind ourselves amid the landscape we call home.”  – Sonya Huber

The Weather in Normal Carrie Etter "Etter's richly inventive phrasing keeps this compelling range of concerns vividly opening up with immediacy, urgency and sensitivity." - Cole Swensen

Carrie Etter is known for beautifully expressive and formally inventive verse. The Weather in Normal, her fourth collection, explores the changes to her hometown of Normal, Illinois following her parents’ deaths, the sale of the family home, and the effects of climate change on Illinois’ landscape and lives.

”It’s well-nigh impossible to convey with quotation how Etter’s use of language, form, restraint and space combine to such impressive effect.” – Stride magazine

Carrie Etter
KARNER BLUE
“a place called Karner, where in some pine barrens, on lupines,
a little blue butterfly I have described and named ought to be out.”
Vladimir Nabokov
Because it used to be more populous in Illinois.
Because its wingspan is an inch.
Because it requires blue lupine.
Because to become blue, it has to ingest the leaves of a blue plant.
Because its scientific name, Lycaeides melissa samuelis, is mellifluous.
Because the female is not only blue but blue and orange and silver
and black.
Because its beauty galvanizes collectors.
Because Nabokov named it.
Because its collection is criminal.
Because it lives in black oak savannahs and pine barrens.
Because it once produced landlocked seas.
Because it has declined ninety per cent in fifteen years.
Because it is.


100 Poems to Save the Earth
 is available on the Seren website: £12.99

The Weather in Normal is available on the Seren website: £9.99

Create your free Seren account and enjoy 20% off every book you buy direct from us.

Five Poems for Earth Day 2020

Today, Earth Day is marking its 50th anniversary. To celebrate, we’re sharing five poems from Seren authors who are writing about the natural world. Find out more about Earth Day and it’s aims here.

‘Prairie’ by Carrie Etter from The Weather in Normal

 

‘Beech’ by Ross Cogan from Bragr

 

‘Rabbit in morning’ by Polly Atkin from Basic Nest Architecture

 

‘Translating Tree’ by Philip Gross

 

‘Biophilia’ by Jane Lovell from This Tilting Earth

Find these and many more great books Seren website. Get 20% off when you sign up to be a member of our book club.

Other titles for Earth Day 2020:

Wild Places UK by Iolo Williams, £19.99

Television naturalist Iolo Williams picks his favourite 40 wildlife sites from the many nature reserves around the country.. From Hermaness on Shetland to the London Wetland Centre, from Dungeness in Kent to Loch Neagh, Williams criss-crosses the country. Lavishly illustrated, author and book aim to introduce a new audience to the delights of the UK.

Blood Rain by André Mangeot, £9.99

Resonant, complex, rich in heft and texture, these are mature poems that grapple with serious themes. Beautifully crafted, and partly inspired by his love of the Brecon Beacons and Snowdonia, they address the natural world, its endangerment and other pressing global issues from multiple perspectives, and with great lyrical power.

‘A thought-provoking book for turbulent times.’
– Matthew Caley

Once by Andrew McNeillie, £9.99

Once is the journey from boyhood to the threshold of manhood of poet Andrew McNeillie. From an aeroplane crossing north Wales the writer looks down on the countryside of his childhood and recalls an almost fabulous world now lost to him. Ordinary daily life and education in Llandudno shortly after the war are set against an extraordinary life lived close to nature. Continually crossing the border between town and country McNeillie relives his life in nature during a period of increasing urbanisation.

The Shaking City by Cath Drake, £9.99

The shaking city of Australian poet Cath Drake’s debut poetry collection is a metaphor for the swiftly changing precarity of modern life within the looming climate and ecological emergency, and the unease of the narrator who is far from home. Tall tales combine with a conversational style, playful humour and a lyrical assurance.​ The poet works a wide set of diverse spells upon the reader through her adept use of tone, technique, plot and form. She is a welcome new voice for contemporary poetry.

Friday Poem – ‘Eldest’ by Carrie Etter

Our Friday Poem this week is ‘Eldest’ by Carrie Etter from her collection The Weather in Normal. Carrie will be reading from The Weather in Normal as part of Poems for the Planet at the Seren Cardiff Poetry Festival.

Carrie Etter The Weather in NormalEtter’s fourth poetry collection, The Weather in Normal is a Poetry Book Society Recommendation. Its focus is Etter’s hometown of Normal, Illinois, lamenting its loss through the death of her parents, the sale of the family home, and the effects of climate change on Illinois’ landscape and lives.

‘It’s well-nigh impossible to convey with quotation how Etter’s use of language, form, restraint and space combine to such impressive effect.’ – Stride magazine

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Weather in Normal is available from the Seren website: £9.99

Poems for the Planet will take place at the Festival at 3pm on Saturday 15th February. Performing alongside Carrie will be Jane Lovell, author of This Tilting Earth and André Mangeot whose new collection Blood Rain is available to pre-order now. Buy your tickets on the Seren Cardiff Poetry Festival website.

Carrie will also be running a workshop on the Prose Poem at 12pm on the same day. Book your place before they run out, limited spaces available.

Create your free Seren account and enjoy 20% off every book you buy direct from us.

Friday Poem – ‘Song a Year after My Mother’s Death’, Carrie Etter

Friday Poem Carrie Etter Song a Year after My Mother's Death

This week our Friday Poem is ‘Song a Year after My Mother’s Death’, from Carrie Etter’s recently published collection, The Weather in Normal.

Carrie Etter The Weather in NormalEtter’s fourth poetry collection, The Weather in Normal is a Poetry Book Society Recommendation. Its focus is Etter’s hometown of Normal, Illinois, lamenting its loss through the death of her parents, the sale of the family home, and the effects of climate change on Illinois’ landscape and lives.

‘Song a Year after My Mother’s Death’ first appeared in Poetry Review.

 

 

Carrie Etter Song Mother's Death

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Weather in Normal is available from the Seren website: £9.99

Create your free Seren account and enjoy 20% off every book you buy direct from us.

 

 

 

Friday Poem – A Birthmother’s Catechism

This week’s poem is from Carrie Etter’s Imagined Sons, first published in 2014, which has been shortlisted for the 2014 Ted Hughes Award for New Work in Poetry.

In Imagined Sons  Carrie Etter has written a book of vivid, heartbreaking poems on the experience of giving up a child for adoption. A prize-winning author, lecturer, critic and popular blogger, Etter imagines the possible destinies for the child and presents us with various scenarios from the tragic to the absurd. That the child’s birthday is also Sept. 11th adds a layer of irony and pathos, ‘What is the anniversary of loss?’ – asks the narrator in one of the ‘Birthmother’s Catechism’ poems. A pamphlet containing some of these poems was a Poetry Book Society Choice.

A Birthmother’s Catechism

How did you let him go?

With black ink and legalese

How did you let him go?

It’d be another year before I could vote

How did you let him go?

With altruism, tears, and self-loathing

How did you let him go?

A nurse brought pills for drying up breast milk

How did you let him go?

Who hangs a birdhouse from a sapling?

Order a copy of Imagined Sons from our website.

Friday Poem – A Birthmother’s Catechism

This Friday’s poem, A Birthmothers Catechism, comes from Carrie Etter’s collection Imagined Sons. The giving up of a first-born son for adoption is the central story, and the way the ramifications of this act echo down the years through the protagonist’s life is movingly embodied. The poems describe various scenes in which the son is ‘encountered’. They are sometimes straight-forwardly realistic, almost like film clips; then there are dream slices full of surreal images; brief comedies or tragedies; and short lyrical laments. This is one of those brave, rare and heartfelt books that will stay with the reader. It has both a compelling urgency and a passionate purpose.

A Birthmother’s Catechism

What do you want?

After twenty hours on trains, I stand on the platform
and stare at I know not what

What do you want?

Rub the leaves between your fingers and smell a ripe lemon

What do you want?

When a stranger compares her mortgage to signing away
her firstborn, I nod and cannot speak

What do you want?

The hangman sold the rope by the inch as a panacea

What do you want?

Houndstooth daisies, in a small, extended fist

Get Carrie Etter’s Imagined Sons here

Friday’s Poem – A Birthmother’s Catechism (September 11, 1986)

imagined Sons Carrie Etter

This Friday’s poem, A Birthmother’s Catechism (September 11, 1986), comes from Carrie Etter’s collection Imagined Sons, A book of vivid, heartbreaking poems on the experience of giving up a child for adoption. Etter imagines the possible destinies for the child and presents us with various scenarios from the tragic to the absurd: a baker, a surfer, a rapist, even the olive in her Greek salad.  Dispersed among these narratives are the ‘Birthmother’s Catechisms’, These narratives provide numerous answers to persistent questions, How did you let him go? What is the anniversary of loss?

A Birthmother’s Catechism (September 11, 1986)

What is the anniversary of loss?

A national day of mourning

Really now, what is the anniversary of loss?

My mother and I watch TV well past her usual bedtime

What is the anniversary of loss?

Where the swan’s nest had been, widely scattered branches and some crumpled beer cans

What is the anniversary of loss?

Sometimes the melancholy arrives before the remembering

What is the anniversary of loss?

Some believe it is impossible to spend too much on the memorial

What is the anniversary of loss?

When I say sometimes the melancholy comes first, I know the body has its own memory

What is the anniversary of loss?

The wishbone snapped, and I clung to the smaller piece