“Put this truth-telling book in your pocket or bag; you will want to keep these poems close.”
—Annie Lighthart, author of Pax
by Emily Newberry
Wisdom is written everywhere, but will we know how to read the signs that lead us to the answers we seek? Every path leads somewhere. Whether to ocean, forest, or grasslands there is truth in every step. But who speaks? Our past or future, the grass we trample, sand dunes with our footprints washed away by the next tide, or trees whispering in the wind? We can write down notes to record each thought, but then we must kill the trees whose shelter we seek. These are the questions and revelations Emily Newberry explores in the poetry of Signs.
Enjoy a Video of Emily Reading from the Book:
Emily Newberry — A Featured Poet on The Poetry Box LIVE (March 2023)
Early Praise for Signs:
Imagine a conversation with your kindest, wisest friend, and you have Emily Newberry’s beautiful new book Signs. Full of wry wit and experience, these poems move with courageous delight from sand dune to mountain, and from birth to death—with time-travel wonderfully in between. “Write if you can,” Newberry skillfully advises, “on silk paper with soft lead/ the harsh sounds of your fears.” And in “Fetch,” she cannily asks us, “Will you miss/ everything/ but your own funeral?” Put this truth-telling book in your pocket or bag; you will want to keep these poems close.
—Annie Lighthart, author of Pax
In these vibrant poems of nature and identity, Newberry exhibits a true talent for imbuing natural detail with authenticity, layered meanings, and austere beauty. But Signs is so much more than that; it’s also brimming with mystery and the kinds of contrasts that speak to larger human truths. Each poem maps out the human heart, in all its internal conflicts, with precision and grace. And all our inherent connectivity. Lines like “I write/ a forest” and “I was not me and not/ her. I was not the pain/ and I was pain” broke me in all the right ways, sparking fresh associates between our internal and external worlds. Compelling, elegant, and remarkably honest, Signs paints an intimate portrait of identity and the ever-present need for empathy, asking us “to be reborn” alongside the poet, praying, finally, “for remembrance.”
—John Sibley Williams, author of The Drowning House
Contemplative and corporeal, this is Newberry’s finest. Meandering. Soulful. Insightful. It is birth and bills and dried leaves, renewal, kinship, and the fact of ourselves as intimately entwined nature. With an eye for vivid reality, these poems embody metaphors in sand dunes and story lines, soft things, and leftovers. Gorgeous turns of morning and grassy walks throughout, this is a collection filled with emotional pull and gentle reminders and philosophical track-stopping songs and flights.
—Jenny Forrester, author of Narrow River, Wide Sky: A Memoir
Signs is a fresh perspective for me, as Emily is both a friend and community mentor. And after having read some of her more technical writings, Signs is a revelation. If I had two words that attempted to touch the mark of their deeply moving prose, it would be SOUL DEEP.
About the Author:
Emily Pittman Newberry is a writer, speaker and thought partner living in Portland, Oregon. She was born in the Midwest during WWII and grew up on the east coast during the rebellion against oppression. After chopping wood for the family fireplaces as a teenager, she went to the March on Washington in 1963.
Since coming out as a transgender woman, Emily has delighted in this experiment we call life. In addition to writing and speaking she is an amateur radio operator. Her tag line is “I help other people shine.” She is fascinated by the way we dance with vulnerability as our lives intersect, and how the rich diversity of life and the many paths we take somehow seem to lead us all home.
Her poetry book, Butterfly A Rose, chapbook, Nature Speaking, Naturally, and most recently her memoir, Turning Inside Out were published by OneSpirit Press. Her poem “Signs” was nominated for a Pushcart Prize in 2014 by Kind of a Hurricane Press. In 2016, the artist Shu-Ju Wang invited her to write poetry for the artist’s book Water.
For more information, visit Emily’s websites: butterflyarose.com and sacredgyre.com, where she hosts a podcast inviting the listener into a conversation about how to stay connected to your deepest values as you work for change.