John Swain’s Rain and Gravestones [published by Crisis Chronicles Press] weaves the natural and sacred. The poems place the readers at the precarious intersection of the quotidian and spiritual—with the poet mediating as shamanistic consciousness. The transformations that take place are gentle, yet profound. Through language, experience is cast into the ritual of catharsisfor “light painted my craft” (in “Coracle”) to “inspire / like a holy book” (“In the Sand”). The poem “Goats” recreates the experience of the persona carrying out such ritual:

I scraped her [the sick girl’s] neck
with a dog fang
and dusted her face
with clay powder.
Then her spirit
Turned
like a cure
and I drove a peg
into the ground.
She only came back
To go away.

The short lines of the poems in Rain and Gravestones deliberately unscroll and turn, leaving the reader at a new place at the end of the poem, transformed.

— review by Krysia Jopek, author of Maps and Shadows


Click here for more about Rain and Gravestones.

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Krysia Jopek’s poems have appeared in Columbia Poetry Review, Prairie Schooner, The Wallace Stevens Journal, Phoebe, Murmur, Windhover, and Artists & Influence. She has written reviews of poetry for The American Book Review and a review of literary criticism for The Wallace Stevens Journal. Maps and Shadows, her first novel (Aquila Polonica 2010), won a Silver Benjamin Franklin award in 2011 in the category of Historical Fiction. The Glass House of Forgetting, her second novel (literary fiction), is forthcoming.

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