The Salt Before It Shakes
In her debut collection of poems, Yvonne Stephens writes about nature, loss, change, hope, motherhood, and family with honesty, courage, sensitivity, and moments of keen existential humor. Stephens' poetry offers a welcome respite from and insight for 21st century life.
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"How often do you encounter a mind that's not trying to be normal or usual, and instead is learning to be more itself--and free? You will find this rare occurrence in The Salt Before it Shakes. Whether writing about mental illness, fertility treatments, miscarriage, pregnancy, mass violence, family love, building a sauna, or canning apricots in light syrup, Stephens approaches her subjects with attention and candor, humor and craft. I admire the quiet fearlessness in these poems; their guileless observations; their quirkiness and curiosity, even in bleak situations. Perhaps most of all, I admire the dignity that refreshes in these well-wrought poems of real life. Read them, you'll see." Holly Wren Spaulding, author of If August
"Yvonne Stephens grounds her poems in the Midwest: there are canoes, wood stoves, and even a porcupine. At the same time, she meditates on the wider natural cycles of death, birth and renewal. In one poem Stephens writes, 'Took my chunk of sun home/put it in a jar with some yeast.' This image captures the earthy alchemy of her attentive and deeply nourishing work." Angela Sorby, author of Distance Learning, Bird Skin Coat, & The Sleeve Waves; winner of Felix Pollak Prize in Poetry (Univ. of Wisc. Press)
"The Salt Before it Shakes is a marvelous collection that carefully and lovingly examines the minute details of our everyday lives. There is longing in these pages -- for a child, for family, for comfort, for contentment and understanding, and for a winter's worth of canned goods and the perfect tomato. Stephens' take on the world through her poetry is deliciously seasoned with desire and despair, with loss and with gain. Each moment captured in the pages of The Salt Before it Shakes is like the title moment, one filled with anticipation and promise." Patricia Ann McNair, author of And These Are the Good Times & The Temple of Air
"An astonishing, brilliant debut, radiating with compassion, understanding and sharply infused insights." Robert Vaughan, author of FUNHOUSE