Between States of Matter
A Poetry Box SELECT title
by Sherry Rind
Between States of Matter points out that we spend more time getting somewhere than being there, more time in the process than the final form. And beings are always trying to upend the way things are, whether it’s a lion appearing in the front yard, a plant sneaking out of its assigned place, or the author shifting between her own self and a dog. The poems move between yearning and acceptance, yet are shot through with sardonic humor—the poet compares a battle of King Kong and Godzilla to the current state of affairs; a dead husband showing up for dinner must be taken to a restaurant because the speaker still can’t cook his favorite food; a seeker of enlightenment will reach that state only by dying in an earthquake. Yet the place that is Between States of Matter is full of possibility. Change could go anywhere.
About the Author
Granddaughter of immigrants, Sherry Rind takes her chances with poetry instead of crossing the Atlantic with a few biscochos by way of kosher food. She published her first poems when still in college. Earning her BA in a recession, she decided the only solution was to return to school, working as a teaching assistant and earning her MA in advanced writing. She taught writing at community colleges and for arts commissions, and worked in development and at miscellaneous other jobs, as writer do.
She received grants and awards from the Seattle and King County Arts Commissions, Pacific Northwest Writers, National Endowment for the Arts, and Artist Trust. She edited two books about Airedale terriers and published numerous articles about parrots. She has published two chapbooks, The Whooping Crane Dance and A Natural History of Grief, runner-up for the Quentin R. Howard Chapbook Prize. Her books are The Hawk in the Back Yard, winner of the Anhinga award and published by Anhinga Press, and A Fall Out the Door, winner of the King County Arts Commission Publication Award and published by Confluence Press. She has always lived with multiple animals and knows she is one.
What They’re Saying…
Nothing stays at rest, writes Sherry Rind, and, indeed, these are restless poems—probing, examining, taking nothing for granted—by a poet who is not fooled by easy appearances. There is an edge to Rind that has been honed on the worn stone of experience, the relentless strop of memory. Still, she finds solace in the adaptability of wild animals, insects, birds, the fierce allegiance of dogs and the tenacity of plants. She is, finally, a poet of hope, one who has been able to, as Wendell Berry says, Be joyful/ though you have considered all the facts.
—Samuel Green, Inaugural Poet Laureate, Washington State
Traversing a tightrope of grief and loss, Sherry Rind’s Between States of Matter blends exquisite imagery with explorations of science and art. These poems reach widely through history and literature to capture Darwin, Sarah Stone, and Percy Bysshe Shelley. Though mortality is never far away, the organic force of life and living comes to the fore: He has important work/just staying alive,/ keeping his carbon burning. Rind is a gardener steeped in the natural world: The mint lacks regret when it dies back in winter;/ only I mourn its leaves’ lost companionship/ for my bourbon. There is an edge to her verse—a poignant music that captures the stillness between what we long to catch hold of and what’s inevitably lost.
—Judith Skillman, Came Home to Winter
The poems in this new collection proliferate with imagery in motion between states of being—flora and fauna domestic and wild, and constant shifts and transitions in their natural history. There are vegetable gardens and suburban lawns to be cared for, exotic and extinct birds and their lore preserved by collectors, sea turtles hauling up between sand and sea to lay their eggs, adolescent cougars prowling human neighborhoods in the interface zones at the edges of former wilderness. All of this richness is refracted through the poems’ prevailing subject—the awareness of life’s evanescence made acute by loss and its lifelong burden of grief. Many of these poems deliver quiet epiphanies, a flash of uplifting or devastating insight at the end: when the great joints of the earth/ begin to shift against their sockets./ All our work will be undone. Dwelling in a state between states, Rind invites us to contemplate how time refracts everyone’s history and to enter these poems like light passing through the ever-shifting gather of glass.
—Carolyne Wright, author of This Dream the World: New & Selected Poems,
and lead editor of Raising Lilly Ledbetter: Women Poets Occupy the Workspace