|Dimensions||7.5 × 9.5 in|
Publication Date: 11/2/2021
Uncertain Acrobats evokes unraveling within its tightly woven narrative, the central concern of which is the death of a parent and the fumbling for balance a dying father and his adult daughter share. Rebecca Hart Olander’s intimate collection doesn’t shy from darkness, strives for light, and resides in music and openhearted humanity. These poems arc across a terrain of divorce, family, childhood, coming of age, mortality, and deep, abiding love, always landing with a foothold in the genuine. A manifestation of what endures, Uncertain Acrobats reaches beyond personal grief and speaks to all who have been upended by terminal illness and the enormity of loss one faces when a beloved leaves one’s life.
|Dimensions||7.5 × 9.5 in|
Rebecca Hart Olander grew up in eastern Massachusetts between Gloucester and Boston. She earned a BA from Hampshire College, an MAT in English from Smith College, and an MFA in Writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts. Her poetry, book reviews, and collaborative writing and collage have appeared widely in journals and anthologies. A chapbook, Dressing the Wounds, was released in 2019 by dancing girl press. Rebecca lives in western Massachusetts where she teaches writing at Westfield State University and is the editor/director of Perugia Press, a nonprofit feminist press publishing first and second full-length books of poetry by women.
Uncertain Acrobats compounds the pleasures of poetry and memoir. These crystalline poems chronicle Rebecca Hart Olander’s relationship with her talented and charismatic father, his death in 2012 at 68, and its aftermath. By virtue of Olander’s brilliant imagery and figurative language, and her mastery of poetic forms, Thomas Seymour Hart is given a tribute that is also a work of art.
—Natasha Sajé, author of Terroir: Love, Out of Place
What else can we do to contain a grief that threatens to overwhelm, but give it, as Shakespeare says, “a local habitation and a name”? This is what Rebecca Hart Olander does in these beautiful poems. She takes us through the life and loss of her father, the “wide-awake man,” and shows how, after the stun of death, love turns into longing, and longing into a rich attentiveness to a world suffused with both absence and presence, as when the poet hears a hermit thrush that “isn’t there, then is.” In making her own process of grief so vivid and alive, Olander becomes a guide for others, denying nothing of the pain, but also embracing the world left to her, bequeathed by her father, a world full of stars beyond our reach, but still “spangling / everything in a wash of light.” These are moving, luminous poems.
—Betsy Sholl, author of House of Sparrows: New and Selected Poems
In Uncertain Acrobats, Rebecca Hart Olander uses the trampoline of memory to somersault between here and the past, the living and the dead. These poems will catch your breath and make your heart do flips.
—Tomás Q. Morín, author of Machete
My brother walks toward me
on the deck of a summer party
and—trick of evening light,
flick of what the heart wants—
our father is there.
We look, but we don’t see.
Then there’s lunar apogee,
the monthly swing away.
They dangle, our gone beloveds,
near as moons.
Anything with numbers and I was a numbskull:
cribbage, cards, chess. Keeping score in the program
at Fenway, shading in the boxes for what meant ball
and what meant strike. What meant error.
He was 68 years on the planet, 41 of which I was his
daughter, unfathomable sums, but some things stuck:
complex roots, subtraction and division
operations, how to carry the zero.
Rebecca Hart Olander
Pub date – November 2, 2021
Trade paper – 7.5 X 9.5″
Emerging Voices – Poetry
5 Horizon Road, #2403
Fort Lee, New Jersey 07024
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