Like Atlas holding up the world, this collection elevates human history—acknowledging and transforming patterns of all kinds through careful attention.
In Atlas, Katrina Vandenberg captures the way events reverberate and repeat across time and place. In the seventeenth century in the Netherlands, as one poem notes, a virus fueled through the tulip trade, making the flowers’ veined petals so beautiful the price of bulbs soared; in the twentieth century in the United States, blood tainted with the AIDS virus was inadvertently transfused into the veins of hemophiliacs, eclipsing “the purpose that briefly lit their brilliant veins.” In another poem, Vandenberg links an image of her sister, pausing in her work as housekeeper, with the contours of a maid in a Vermeer painting and a woman just “made over” on that day’s episode of Oprah.
Like any good atlas, this collection plots intersections: of love, death, history, art, and desire. Carrying lines and themes from one poem to the next, drawing on family artifacts, memory, and imagination, these are poems that build a conversation.
Like this book? Sign up for occasional updates
Praise and Prizes
“Katrina Vandenberg’s ways are boldly and beautifully mapped. Atlas is a first book of remarkable talent and depth.”
“What a gift to have these poems in the world! Katrina Vandenberg is an expert witness to the verities, pathologies, and moments. The stain of blood on this Atlas is exquisite. Here is the record of an honest pilgrim—a book of treasure maps and vital stats—a mighty work in words.”
“A poetic cartography of the first order—a map of the soul of a courageous and talented writer. Katrina Vandenberg’s explorations of experience, of love and loss and grief, are relentlessly honest; her vision is precise; her language is fresh. ‘You want a big piece / of this world,’ she writes. ‘You would love to have the whole thing.’ Which is what every traveler seeks—and what readers will discover on every page of this remarkable book.”
“Employs a language and flair for expression that transcends time.”
“Katrina Vandenberg writes with a marvelous mixture of authority and tenderness . . . Her poetry touched me deeply.”
“Playfully intoxicating . . . Katrina Vandenberg’s work both challenges the senses and makes you want more.”