by Kristin Berger
The poetry of Earthwork is centered around, sprung from, and located in the landscape of mothering during the increasingly mapless territory of climate change and the pandemic. These are poems that take careful care of the small wonders of childhood and parenthood against such large and looming realities; poems that never stray away from wide-eyed honesty, taking in grief, joy, memory, and the strangeness of life, equally. Poems that stay put on the earth, show us with their small mappings a few ways of doing the necessary work.
About the Author
Kristin Berger is the author of the poetry collections Refugia (Persian Pony Press, 2019), Echolocation (Cirque Press, 2018), How Light Reaches Us (Aldrich Press, 2016), and For the Willing (Finishing Line Press, 2008), and a collaborative poetry and print book, Woman & Changing Man: A High Desert Myth (Nightjar Press, 2022), with Eugene, Oregon printmaker Diane Sandall.
Recipient of residencies from Playa, OSU’s Spring Creek Project (Shotpouch and H.J. Andrews Experimental Forest), and Starkey Experimental Forest and Range, Kristin’s work is influenced by Oregon’s High Desert, Cascades, Coastal Range and all the Pacific Northwest’s wild and interconnected landscapes. Kristin lives in Portland, Oregon, with her family.
Early Praise for Earthwork:
Kristin Berger’s Earthwork creates a topography inhabited by complex sorrows and joys. In a seamless braiding of the domestic and the natural world, the body and the celestial, Berger’s poems explore grief, divorce, motherhood, and mortality in language that is part lullaby, part anthem. Some poems face the pandemic, our political climate, and the state of our planet head on, reminding us that Loss is accumulating faster than we had planned. Other poems buttress our worries and fears with the knowledge that We are here to keep each other up. Throughout this extraordinary collection, Berger’s lyrical, meditative voice buoys readers through the wild wrack lines of our existence, making us ask, Dear world, where would I be without you?
—Brittney Corrigan, author of Daughters and Breaking
A wrack line is the place at the edge of the sea where debris left by the tide forms a seam. It’s a transition we can see, and in Kristin Berger’s poem “Walking the Wrack Line,” it’s the tie that binds a mother to her child, a connection that changes with each day.
In times of constant change, how do we hold on to—and let go of—what we love? How do we find our footing? Earthwork explores those questions. In Berger’s poems, global, local and personal transformations intertwine like flotsam on the shore. As the forest burns and a pandemic blooms, an old love ignites into crackling pinon, a daughter evolves, a mother boils her grief into huckleberry jam.
In Berger’s poems the wild and interconnected landscapes of the Pacific Northwest mirror the wildness and interconnectedness of human relationships. The result is a collection of satisfying juxtapositions: language both rich and plain, poems both narrative and lyrical, perspectives that shift from planets to ovaries to French fries. The landscape of Earthwork is both refreshingly singular and common to us all. It’s a place where hope finds purchase.
—Alyssa Chase, writer and editor
Kristin Berger’s Earthwork catalogues grief, loss, our pandemic anxieties, all while finding comfort in the exile of nature, the togetherness of family:
Children run loose in the chicken yard
like moons without planets beyond the radar,
tuned-out from the world’s quiet alarm—
No one here is yet sick. Lunch is ready.
Sun migrates through high noon blue . . .
Yet these poems still address the losses all of us have suffered, our collective trauma, The sleeplessness and the tinny chords of exhaustion playing us, tuning/ us into people we sometimes don’t recognize. This is a quietly powerful collection, one that will become even more necessary as time goes on in our unimagined new world.
—Shaindel Beers, author of Secure Your Own Mask, finalist for the Oregon Book Award