Where Outside the Body Is the Soul Today

Where Outside the Body Is the Soul Today

by Melissa Kwasny

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Overview

Where Outside the Body Is the Soul Today comprises two interwoven series—one of linked prose poems called “Another Letter to the Soul” and one of individual lined poems that explore the connection between anima and animal. The volume speaks to and questions the ancient concept of the soul and its contemporary manifestations, including the damaged soul, the American soul, and the blind, gagged soul of history.

Melissa Kwasny does not define the soul in traditional religious terms, but in a shamanic, perhaps ecological sense, as the part of being that continues its existence after death. The poems in “Another Letter to the Soul” point inward, addressing the human soul directly, while the individual lined poems search outward, sensing the soul in the plants, animals, rocks, waters, and winds that surround us.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780295742441
Publisher: University of Washington Press
Publication date: 09/06/2017
Series: Pacific Northwest Poetry
Pages: 96
Sales rank: 1,207,125
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 9.20(h) x 0.70(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

This is Melissa Kwasny’s sixth book of poems. Her previous collections include Pictograph, Reading Novalis in Montana, and The Nine Senses. She is also the author of Earth Recitals: Essays on Image and Vision. She has won both the Cecil Hemley Memorial Award and the Alice Fay Di Castagnola Award from the Poetry Society of America.

Table of Contents

Contents
The Hide and Skin Handbook
1. The Deer People
2. Another Letter to the Soul
3. The Blue Heron People
4. Another Letter to the Soul
5. The Hawk People
6. Another Letter to the Soul
7. The Creek People
8. Another Letter to the Soul
Notes and Acknowledgments
About the Author

What People are Saying About This

Dan Beachy-Quick

Kwasny gives us here the book our age most desperately needs—not only a book that searches through the self for all the ancestors, all the dead, which makes of violence not despair but threshold to radical repair—a book that asks what is the soul. And the soul is no possession. It is instead what we are possessed by—and soul isn’t one thing, but all things, everything, from the herd of mule-deer wary at our own presence, to the soil that bears the plants that bear the seeds the goldfinches feed on, and yes, the soul is those goldfinches, too.

Debra Magpie Earling

I can’t shake the feeling that this work is haunted by the spirits of the living earth. Revelatory and resplendent, Where Outside the Body Is the Soul Today is an altar to a higher vision, an elegant meditation fastened to both the inconceivable and the conceivable, the immortal and the material world.

From the Publisher

"Kwasny has a rare lyric intelligence that can illuminate the most complexly layered quest for understanding without attempting to simplify its parts. These poems never shrink from the most intricate and difficult questions that we, as humans, face."—Rusty Morrison, author of Whethering and After Urgency

"Kwasny gives us here the book our age most desperately needs—not only a book that searches through the self for all the ancestors, all the dead, which makes of violence not despair but threshold to radical repair—a book that asks what is the soul. And the soul is no possession. It is instead what we are possessed by—and soul isn't one thing, but all things, everything, from the herd of mule-deer wary at our own presence, to the soil that bears the plants that bear the seeds the goldfinches feed on, and yes, the soul is those goldfinches, too."—Dan Beachy-Quick, author of Circle's Apprentice

"I can't shake the feeling that this work is haunted by the spirits of the living earth. Revelatory and resplendent, Where Outside the Body Is the Soul Today is an altar to a higher vision, an elegant meditation fastened to both the inconceivable and the conceivable, the immortal and the material world."—Debra Magpie Earling, author of Perma Red

Rusty Morrison

Kwasny has a rare lyric intelligence that can illuminate the most complexly layered quest for understanding without attempting to simplify its parts. These poems never shrink from the most intricate and difficult questions that we, as humans, face.

Interviews

Where Outside the Body is The Soul Today is Melissa Kwasny’s sixth book of poems. Composed of two interwoven series—one comprised of linked prose poems under the title “Another Letter to the Soul,” and one of individual lined poems that explore the connection between anima and animal—the work speaks to and questions the ancient concept of the soul and its contemporary manifestations: the damaged soul, the American soul, the blindfolded, gagged soul of history. The challenges of this subject are obvious, soul being a decidedly unfashionable topic in our highly technological, secular age. Yet the book does not define the soul in terms of its place in traditional religion but rather in the shamanic, perhaps ecological sense, as the part of our being that continues its existence after death, and thus as something that might be uniquely capable of understanding the catastrophic language of the earth. The great scholar of Iranian Sufism, Henry Corbin, writes that if we want to see the natural world as it really is, it is more important to ask who it is rather than what: “who is the earth? who are the waters, the plants, the mountains? or, to whom do they correspond?” While the “Another Letter to the Soul” poems point inward, addressing the human soul directly, the individual lined poems, variously titled “The Deer People,” “The Hawk People,” or “The Lake People,” etc., search outward, sensing soul in the “personhood” of the plants, animals, rocks, waters, and winds that surround us.

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