Gilgamesh Wilderness

Product Details
$20.00  $18.60
Saddle Road Press
Publish Date
6.0 X 9.0 X 0.42 inches | 0.6 pounds

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About the Author
Jessamyn Smyth's books The Inugami Mochi (2016) and Gilgamesh Wilderness (2021) are from Saddle Road Press. "A More Perfect Union" from The Inugami Mochi was selected as one of the "100 Distinguished Stories of 2005" in Best American Short Stories (2006). Kitsune is from Finishing Line Press New Women's Voices Series (2013). Her poetry and prose have appeared in Crab Orchard Review, Taos Review, Red Rock Review, American Letters and Commentary, Nth Position, Life & Legends, Wingbeats: Exercises and Practices in Poetry, and many other journals and anthologies. She is the recipient of fellowships, scholarships, and grants from the Robert Francis Foundation, Bread Loaf Writer's Conference, and others. Jessamyn was the founding Editor in Chief of Tupelo Quarterly, and Founder/Director of the Quest Writer's Conference. She has taught Interdisciplinary Humanities and writing at Bard College Holyoke, Quest University Canada, Middlebury College, The University of Massachusetts at Amherst's Commonwealth College, The University of Pennsylvania Writer's Conference, and throughout her communities. Her books Koan Garden and Skaha are available on her website:

"An elegy of the highest order. The narrator's love and grief recall the most ancient myths while also subverting them. Her canine companion Gilgamesh becomes Enkidu, and she, Enkidu, becomes Gilgamesh. They merge into one being. Orpheus is now a witch whose song resonates across humanity, yet she mourns for the inhuman. She has the faith and wits to wait this time until she reemerges above ground before turning around to face death. Her beloved's tapetum eyes, his breath in her palm, the wilderness he senses with keen joy, the pain of her world without him, Rilke's panther, are all reborn in her exquisite words, a dog's tracks, stepping across these pages."

- Rebecca Snow, author of Glassmusic

"...Jessamyn Smyth invokes a modern epic for readers to witness the earthen, luminous, yet also brittle remains of one soul being shared by two bodies; 'the infinite beloved' and the one who has been left behind. ...Ultimately Smyth, like Gilgamesh before her, cannot kill death for us or for her infinite beloved, but if we listen close enough, we may hear the salve approximating an answer to that epic question: how do we go on- heart open-in the presence of death?"

- Jim Churchill-Dicks, author of Wine-Dark Mother and the Trapper's Son

"...The rib-spreader open truth of Gilgamesh Wilderness. Like I'm reading Smyth say: 'Listen, the worst has already happened. You already love. You can stop holding against it. Put your heart into my hands, into my voice. Trust me and we will look together.' ... There is only one story, as ancient as it is personal: how to carry a living heart through the glow of this burning world. Through the gates of Gilgamesh Wilderness's pages a singular voice is waiting for you. Luminous."

- Claudia Mauro, author of Stealing Fire and Reading the River

"Gilgamesh Wilderness lives up to its mythic name by leading us on an arresting and dazzling journey. Smyth deftly intertwines stunning prose and poetry, narration and reflection, dreams and waking life. ... This line is going to stay with me for a while: 'that pulsing you see in the inside of her wrist, it's misleading...' The whole journey of this book is worth every step."

- John Sheirer, Author of Stumbling Through Adulthood: Linked Stories

"In a wilderness of bone-deep grief, Smyth builds a word road as she travels. Lighting her way, mysteries as temporal and immediate as a single surprising bloom opening to a full meadow of color and as close to eternal as the distant beckoning Milky Way. A paean to her companion and to deep love transcending species, Gilgamesh Wilderness gathers together startling poems, prose, and fragments of contemplation. Mixing the mythic and the muddy, Smyth's words invite us to walk with her and her familiar through a geography of the heart, from the Salish Sea to the Green Mountains and the Connecticut River Valley. From wondering how one can go on to going on. This is a stunning collection, polished with elegant, feral energy and insight."

- Jan Maher, author of Heaven, Indiana and Earth As It Is

"Gilgamesh Wilderness is a keening. Part elegy, part eulogy, it is a brilliantly written lamentation about the loss of the beloved. That the beloved is a dog made these verses resonate all the more for me. Because this dog, like the warrior companion whose death sent the classical Gilgamesh into a spiral of grief, like the service dog whose ghost spirit still lives with me, is no doting lover, but an ally, a familiar, a friend. I struggle to put this into words, because I know (oh, do I know!) that this is not a "woman and dog" story. ...I waited for this book, and it was worth the wait. Walk in the wilderness... and remember how fierce love can be.

- Michel Wing, author of Body on the Wall