The Arborists studies paper ephemera-the notes, letters, and artwork that particular lives leave behind; and also the sensory ephemera of a life-the taste of pie, the depths of flowers. The book visits with family and friends, "our chairs blipping their white seats / like tabs on a chart," and wants to know what "map we would make / if you attached a flame to us and filmed us in the dark." In The Arborists, hornets eat the wood of the house while the people in the house continue making themselves as best as they can into mattering. Moments and memories collage into an elusive definition of love.
"Rilke wrote, 'The things of this world... seem to need us.' Molly Tenenbaum, better than any poet I know, hears the call of things-banjos, clematis, paintings of chickens-and translates for us their happiness and pathos. She brings this genius to The Arborists, set in a time of great personal loss and romantic discovery. This is that rare and wondrous collection that takes my breath-deeply moving, effervescent, utterly original and alive."
-Kathleen Flenniken, Poet Laureate Emerita of Washington State, author of Post Romantic
"Tenenbaum's poems are lyrical, tightly woven, at times whimsical. They are powerful poems of a mother's passing, of a brother's face, of a dad's collapse. The natural world of vines, trees, flowers, pawed creatures is strongly present, as is domestic life, and the poet's life as a banjo player
and teacher. In this work images are stacked, stitched, and intertwined, making each poem a mesmerizing read, a piece of music."
-Priscilla Long, author of Holy Magic and Crossing Over: Poems
"With a deep, underlying music, the poems in The Arborists reflect the world's detail. Tenenbaum calls hornets 'little cartographers, ' writes a biography in banjo, and remembers 'how we used to lose our nozzles.' This is a world to be richly lost in-where a friend says, 'Can I quit my job yesterday?' and the cat is a 'weather report.' The Arborists asks what to do with the artifacts of a life, and answers: Craft them into poems."
-Kelli Russell Agodon, author of Dialogues with Rising Tides