Translations from Bark Beetle
In this inspired collection, acclaimed poet and translator Jody Gladding takes the physical, elemental world as her point of inquiry, examining how language arises from landscape, and deriving a lexicon for these poems from the rich offerings of the world around her.
In some poems, Gladding steps into the role of translator, interpreting fragments left by bark beetles or transcribing raven calls. In others, poems take the form of physical objects—a rock, split slate, an egg, a feather—or they emerge from a more expansive space—a salt flat at the Great Salt Lake, or a damaged woodlot. But regardless of the site, the source, or the material, the poet does not position herself as the innovator of these poems. Rather, the objects and landscapes we see in Translations from Bark Beetle provide the poet with both a shape and a language for each poem. The result is a collection that reminds us how to see and to listen, and which calls us to a deeper communion—true collaboration—between art and the more-than-human world.
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Praise and Prizes
“There is an alchemy going on here, it has to do with what Jody Gladding tells us, yes. But it has a whole lot more to do with what she withholds. This is a magical book, one in which the pastoral is in the range of our voices, the devotion is in the range of what we cannot hear, and poetry is in every page’s silence. Gladding’s genius lies in her ability to split language, her knowing, as René Char did, that ‘lucidity is the wound closest to the sun.’”
“Jody Gladding proposes a new kind of translation where ‘there are only two verb tenses: the cyclical and the radiant.’ She practices both, giving us a powerful, eerie book where rubbings, drawings, and installations compound the translation. ‘I am / this / moment / of / perception,’ she says. Her poetry witnesses multiple realities inside and outside time to let us see that ‘humankind was a violent / force that destroyed the living / face of the planet.’ Brilliant!!!”
“Translations from Bark Beetle expands nature poetry’s domain by revisiting notions of who writes it, where it’s inscribed, and, of course, what subtle and sure impressions it makes on a reader’s awareness.”
“In her latest collection, Jody Gladding sets out to interpret the world for us; what, for instance, are we to make of the marks left by the bark beetle—or an egg or a feather or the Great Lakes? Her language is refreshingly forthright and punchy.”