Reliquary of Debt takes on the familiar topics of pilgrimage and travel in order to ask new questions about the intersections of parenting, god, economics, feminism, art, and culture. Margaret Rozga, author of Justice, Freedom, Herbs, calls the collection "a tour de force of poetic innovation and fun." Kimberly Blaeser, author of Apprenticed to Justice, says that the book "invites the reader to re-see the art and artifacts of our culture. ... "from 'finger bones' and frescoes to the Harry Potter Platform 9 3/4. The book awakens an awareness of everyday 'debts' we owe for the lushness of food and persistence of memory, for stories like that of Saint Zita's miracle and the ones we create walking through our days together." Susan Firer notes the mix of "dense, inclusive, polyglot poems ... with dance-party rhythms, fresh language and imagery, imagination and facts." Sonnets, syllabics, and Skypes; story and lyric; tradition and experiment; poetry and prose; old and new forms, including a sequence of factual-fictional "Wikiprosepoems" about the appearance of pumpkin in Italy and an architectural series that imitates Giotto's Arena Chapel all figure in this collection, an extended meditation on worship and want. What do we abandon, leave behind, relinquish, and forsake as we journey with fellow travelers in mixed sympathy and antipathy? How do we keep moving forward and at what cost? What do we notice and what do we ignore? How many museums and churches does one family need to see? Who decides, and does it matter?
-Wendy Vardaman travels with a keen eye for off-beat and evocative details of history, art, culture, and her own family relationships. These she savors and preserves for us in Reliquary of Debt, a tour de force of poetic innovation and fun-Margaret Rozga, author of Justice Freedom Herbs, Though I Haven't Been to Baghdad and 200 Nights and One Day
-A poetic pilgrimage, Wendy Vardaman's Reliquary of Debt invites the reader to re-see the art and artifacts of our culture. Through the lens of these gentle, smart, and witty poems, the distance that the notion of "relic" usually conjures falls away, replaced by a vital experience that has the reader's own "worship-wanting eyes" newly fixed on everything from "finger bones" and frescoes to the Harry Potter Platform 9 3/4. The book awakens an awareness of everyday "debts" we owe for the lushness of food and persistence of memory, for stories like that of Saint Zita's miracle and the ones we create walking through our days together. This is the poetry of ancient cities, of museums and cathedrals, but it is also the poetry of family, of sacred journey taken together with the sun warm on our backs-Kimberly Blaeser, author of Apprenticed to Justice
-Wendy Vardaman serves up dense, inclusive, olyglot poems of pilgrimage, travel, family, history, art, imagination, relationships and more. With dance-party rhythms, fresh language and imagery, imagination and facts, Vardaman continues in the American line of making traditions: Skype poems, giottos, Wikiprosepoems, Wikilistprosepoems, American sonnets, Abecedarians and scholarly-lyric-hybrids. Read the powerful "Tortelli di Zucca Mantovani," the second poem in the collection, and you won't be able to put the book down. You'll also be craving the title dish. No worry: Vardaman includes a recipe for the famous dish. Not a cook? Trader Joe's is mentioned several times as a source for imported Tortelli di Zucca. However, poems like Vardaman's you'll find no where else but in her surprising, adventuresome collection Reliquary of Debt-Susan Firer, author of Milwaukee Does Strange Things to People: New & Selected Poems 1979-2007
About the Author
Wendy Vardaman, has a PhD in English from the University of Pennsylvania and a BS in Engineering from Cornell University. Co-editor of Verse Wisconsin (2009-2014) and founding co-editor of Cowfeather Press, her poems, reviews, and interviews have appeared online and in numerous anthologies and journals, including Poetry Daily, Poets.org, and Women's Review of Books. She is co-editor of four anthologies: the Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets' 2013 Poets' Calendar, Turn Up the Volume: Poems About the States of Wisconsin (Little Bird Press 2013), Echolocations, Poets Map Madison (Cowfeather Press 2013), and Local Ground(s)-Midwest Poetics: Selected Prose Verse Wisconsin 2009-2014 (Cowfeather Press 2014). The author of two collections of poetry, Reliquary of Debt (Lit Fest Press 2015) and Obstructed View (Fireweed Press 2009), she has been nominated for numerous Pushcart Prizes and Best of the Net Awards and has been runner-up for the Council for Wisconsin Writers' Lorine Niedecker and short non-fiction awards. She teaches poetry and creative non-fiction online through the Loft Literary Center and the Division of Continuing Studies UW-Madison, lives in Madison with husband Thomas DuBois, has three adult children, and has never owned a car. In addition to personal readings, she has coordinated dozens of poetry events, panels, and conversations in Wisconsin and beyond. With Sarah Busse, she teaches poetry workshops and develops collaborations with community, government, non-profit and civic organizations that promote and expand our ideas of both poetry and publication in order to integrate poetry into daily life, ritual, and the public square. In 2012 she and Busse became Poets Laureate of Madison, a volunteer post overseen by the Madison Arts Commission. Their overall project, "Write Your Madison," includes Poetry at Common Council Meetings, "Bus Lines" in partnership with Metro Transit, a Madison Poetry Annual reading as well as the anthology Echolocations, Poets Map Madison. These projects promote the idea that public poetry can help all of us to ask better questions, to engage in deeper discussion, to create more equitable communities, and to live more meaningfully. New Write Your Madison calls and events are announced through Cowfeather Press and on Twitter (#WriteYourMadison). Wendy is on Facebook, Twitter (@wendylvardaman), LinkedIn, and Tumblr, publishing prose and links related to performance and poetry at liveart(s) artlive(s).