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About the Author
Human rights activist Pamela Uschuk's seven poetry collections include Crazy Love (American Book Award) and Blood Flower. Translated into twelve languages, her work appears widely in Poetry, Ploughshares, and others. Awards include Best of the Web, Dorothy Daniels Award (National League of American PEN Women), prizes from Ascent, New Millenium & Amnesty International. Editor of Cutthroat, Truth to Power, and Puro Chicanx Writers of the 21st Century, Black Earth Institute Fellow, Uschuk lives in Tucson. She leads writing workshops at the University of Arizona Poetry Center and is featured in Academy of American Poets Poem-A-Day. She's finishing her memoir, Of Thunderlight and Moon: An Odyssey Through Cancer.
"With tenderness, expansive compassion, and profound gifts of radiant description, Pamela Uschuk considers so many ways people may be estranged and lost in this precious, difficult world. With brave ferocity, her poems in Refugee navigate new vision and reconnection, so desperately longed for right now and always." --Naomi Shihab Nye, author of The Tiny Journalist
"There is a position in yoga called "the shining heart." This is how Pam Uschuk has approached her poems in Refugee. Pam Uschuk is on fire. She has carried her song and vision across deserts and over mountains. Witness and beauty undivided." --Luis Alberto Urrea, author of House of Fallen Angels
"Pam Uschuk's amazing new book Refugee is the affirmation of a poet at the height of her talent as a writer who has mastered the art of what poetry is about and how a poem connects us through the world. Through interwoven tightness of language, Pam Uschuk brings us imagery that is very much alive, like breathing things we used to know, or forgot, or could not live without. Here, she takes us by the hand through a world that used to be whole, but now, broken and scarred, whether that world is that of the natural world of broken creatures or people or not. Here are poems about loss, survival, and living again, the defiance to dare to feel pain, to hurt, to heal, to relive the life we were not meant to live. In a book where there are hungry children in cages, refugee mothers clinging to their children here in the new America or elsewhere, we are confronted by powerfully crafted images that take on a life of their own. Uschuk brings us the refugee, not the way we know refugees, but the way the word refugee has become transformed in this new day of anti-immigrant sentiment, that rejection a refugee knows. But in Uschuk's Refugee, we become the metaphor of each refugee, that of the cancer patient, who is both defiant and resilient as in the ghost of the mother who chases her daughter as if alive, where we do not fear the ghost because the ghost has a metaphor of our own survival.
"She writes of ghosts as if ghosts were themselves refugees seeking home. In every line, these poems are an empowerment of the survivors' need to be woman, to be human, child refugee, mother elephant, clinging to, and nurturing its own just as a woman comforts her refugee child despite our new world of border walls and cages. In Refugee, metaphors take on new powers, where everything is woman even after the loss of womanhood, after the bruising by surgery, the pain, the discarding of parts that used to make a woman whole, the affirmation of the power of our womanness. The idea of being refugee, transcending the idea itself of being a refugee since, with Uschuk, being refugee means being all of us. Here is a book of incredible power, anger, and hope in a day when all we need is to know that we are: "Alive . . ." where we "rise/against the constant throb of absence/." These powerfully crafted poems are urgently necessary."--Patricia Jabbeh Wesley, author of Praise Song for My Children: New and Selected Poems
"Pamela Uschuk is, in my view, one of our country's best poets. Her new book, REFUGEE, shows precisely why. Her poems rise up from careful craft, scattering beauty, detailed descriptions, merged with an anger at injustice and a persistent hope for the world that we could create. Her insistence, that her poems are not just pretty and tasty, puts her in the wide and necessary tradition of American poetry that cannot be silent in the face of human cruelty, America not living up to its own words. Pamela Uschuk's words, in these poems, share delight at the natural world, at the same time as she laments and "borders on anger" at what we do to one another."--Joseph Ross
"Boldy defiant and passionately descriptive, Pamela Uschuk's Refugee is a documentary in verse of the myriad ways in which brave people become lost in a chaotic world. Its messages about humanity, politics, violence and climate change are stark. Nonetheless, central to the collection's message is one of transformation -- one that will motivate anyone with a shred of humanity to navigate toward a new vision, one of positive social change and the reconnection with each other and with nature the entire world so desperately needs."--Nicole Yurcaba, Southern Review of Books
"Uschuk, winner of an American Book Award, here rejects the assumption that nature poetry is apolitical or unengaged with the social realm, instead asserting that climate crisis is inseparable from human crisis, domestic and international. She also rejects the myth of the solitary poet and draws on community, which she defines as an ecosystem of people, flora, and fauna. Through poems that powerfully render a world where individual action holds value and every life is one that matters, Refugee chronicles the many ways in which environmental and political disaster, cancer, and racism affect our ability to exist, live, and thrive." -- Tara Ballard, author of House of the Night Watch
"A mordantly tender triumph rich with natural imagery." --Kirkus Reviews (starred)
"The first line of Pamela Uschuk's extraordinary new book Refugee throws down the gauntlet to all who are guilty of less than full attention to the blood-drenched, war-torn contemporary world: 'So you think you can live remote...' The poems grow not only from our collective suffering caused by political indifference and greed--war, gun violence, the plight of refugees incarcerated at the border--but also from grief at the loss of a sister and brother, and from her own excruciating fight against ovarian cancer." -- Ann Fisher-Wirth, The Orion Review