"A work of quiet compassion and great heart." -- Robert Creeley for Unbroken Line
Seven Places in America: A Poetic Sojournby Miriam Sagan
Sagan was an artist in residence in two National Parks, living in a cabin as the sole after dark occupant in Petrified Forest National Park and in Everglades park housing in a neighborhood
Seven Places in America: A Poetic Sojourn is a collection of poetry by Miriam Sagan based on seven journeys in the U.S. in search of remoteness, solitude, and inspiration.
Sagan was an artist in residence in two National Parks, living in a cabin as the sole after dark occupant in Petrified Forest National Park and in Everglades park housing in a neighborhood of slash pines, vultures, and snow globes. National Parks are iconic--they tell us what to look at--and the poems in park settings also look sidewise to include a tourist, a butterfly, or a cup of coffee as well as a panorama.
A residency at Andrews Experimental Forest in the Cascades includes the focus of the Ecological Reflections program--where every writer explores fixed sites, including old growth forest and a logged area. Here the poems also range into dreams, Chinese poets, and the notion of compost--both physical and creative.
Two very different but analagous sculpture parks are also settings. Stone Quarry Hill in upstate New York yielded a poetry guide to the sculptures and also history of the area. Poems written at The Land/An Art Site in remote central New Mexico range from lonesome freight train whistles to avant-garde installations.
Rivers run through this book as well. The Ohio and Mississippi are dotted with ancient archeological mounds that are explored in poems about the intersection between archaic underworlds and modern settings such as malls and gold courses. And just outside the poet's door the Santa Fe River runs from watershed to the village of Agua Fria, allowing for reflections on personal history and ecology closer to home.
Each section of the book is introduced by an essay on the residency, including some housekeeping questions, such as "where is the nearest jelly doughnut?" Seven Places in America is about location, borders, beauty, destruction--and the poet in the landscape.
- Asher, Sherman Publishing
- Publication date:
- Product dimensions:
- 5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.50(d)
Read an Excerpt
Everglades National Park, Florida, December 2006: An Exotic Solitude
It took me a day and a half to get from Santa Fe in northern New Mexico to the Everglades in southern Florida. I left a busy life of family and teaching for more than two weeks of almost uninterrupted solitude. As I pulled up to the Park Service offices I had a moment of terror--what if I'd made the whole thing up and the residency wasn't real? I was reassured to meet Alan Scott, the ranger in charge of the artists in residence program. He gave me a brief orientation to the park, which focused on:
The Four Poisonous Snakes Of The Park
The Two Poisonous Plants
Mosquitoes, And West Nile Virus
Why To Never Touch A Caterpillar
When To Back Away From An Alligator (if it hisses and comes toward you)
Then he took me outside to a convienantly located poison wood tree covered in poison ivy vines and had me identify each one.
"Now,” said Alan "on to the dangers of man.” Serial killers? Psychopaths? "People drive worse on vacation than they do at home,” he said "be careful, particularly in parking lots.”
The apartment I was to stay in looked simple but pleasant, despite its scuffed linoleum and obvious years of wear, and turned out to be a great place to write. The first thing I did was move my desk--card table really--to the screened porch, facing into the forest of slash pine. I decided to limit my housekeeping to boiling some mildewed sponges and arranging things in a mild way. I didn't want to replicate domestic life. I was here to write and explore. I investigated the three sections of the park, and surrounding areas. I went in search of the rare and unusual--and was rewarded by seeing crocodiles who favor the brackish waters of the bay and a nest of a baby alligators. It turns out these toothy reptiles are devoted mothers, who tend their offspring for a full two years. I saw anhingas, turquoise-eyed cormorants, egret, ibis, cranes...a panoply of birds to observe and admire. But what I was most in search of was the rare tree snail. After several hours in a tropical hammock, a hardwood island in the usual sea of grass, I found one shining exquisitely in the gloom. Later, on a ranger's tip, I saw a cluster of multicolored shells in a slash pine forest.
1. The Photograph
edge, cloud, horizon swoop of winged scavengers buzzards over the sea of grass far-lying hammock of trees distant as the past or the photograph you once took of the tiny columned temple
Meet the Author
Miriam Sagan has published twenty-five books, including the poetry collection MAP OF THE LOST (UNM Press). She founded and directs the creative writing program at Santa Fe Community College, including the permanent installation of "Poetry Posts." Her work has won a Border Library Association Award, a New Mexico Book Award, and best memoir of the year from Independent Publishers. She works extensively with land based poetry, and had a show "Wendover Landing" at 516 Gallery in Albuquerque, 2012. In 2011 she received the Santa Fe Mayor's Award for Excellence in the Arts.
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