by Randi Ward
These poems are never merely pastoral, and their emotional range belies their small size. Here are poems that move from the lyrical and humorous to the acerbic, the rueful, and even the creepy. “Every little whipstitch,” we can hear Randi Ward’s haunted and haunting voice moving between worlds like a wily shape-shifter.
— Maggie Anderson, author of A Space Filled With Moving and Years That Answer
Praise for Whipstitches:
"This beautifully produced book of tight, intense poems has ostensible themes of animals and plants and weather in a rural place. A handful of the poems have a bit of wisdom (a poem called "Tadpole" says in whole, "When you're stuck/in a rut,/everything depends on the weather"); a few wear their emotion on their sleeve, like "Grandma," in which "What's left of her" paces a sagging porch wearing one sock. There is a lot of wit and a modicum of humor as in "Daddy Longlegs" where the poet asks the arachnid to stop pointing. There are references to other poems with strong images and lots of white space (the standing water in Ward's "Wheelbarrow," unlike in Willam Carlos Williams', however, breeds mosquitoes.)
But what really stuns and holds me about these small explosions is the worlds they suggest funneling down into the spare utterances. Many of these implied worlds and histories of experience are frightening, bleak and violent. These represent probably the largest group of poems. "Bath" has only fourteen words, but the penultimate one is "bruise," and the woman in the poem soaks in a way to "make/a blind mirror cry." Such poems hint at realms of suffering behind the crystalline words on the page: "Lights Out" seems to be a child in danger at bedtime. And, to quote one poem completely, the speaker in "Gate" has a profound ambivalence about home that outshines dozens of overblown memoirs of family dysfunction, abuse, and mental illness:
so I don't
have to walk
This kind of writing shames us all for our sloppy purple prose and prosy poetry."
-by Meredith Sue Willis from Books For Readers
“What a fresh, disturbing new voice is found in this collection! Imagine the quirky, revelatory ways Emily Dickinson saw the world meshed with the succinct clarities of Lorine Niedecker. Now add a dose of H. P. Lovecraft, and you have some sense of the triumph these surprising little poems achieve.” — Marc Harshman, Poet Laureate of West Virginia and author of Green-Silver and Silent
“Each poem in Whipstitches is a world Ward makes us see, or see again, with a child’s clarity melded to metaphor. Underlying the whole is both abiding love for the homeplace and knowledge of the wounds it inflicts.” — Lee Sharkey, author of Calendars of Fire and senior co-editor of Beloit Poetry Journal
“Randi Ward’s poems: western-world haikus? In one sense they are, but these succinct, precisely crafted poems rarely conclude in a mere acknowledgment of the thing per se, the event per se, as in the Japanese literary genre. Ward’s poems unfold unaffectedly, yet with increasing enigma. Snow is rarely just snow, broomsedge is rarely just broomsedge. Whipstitches narrates a subjectivity, a human body within the world, a poetic sensibility that is among the subtlest that I have encountered in my recent reading.”
— John Taylor, author of If Night is Falling and The Apocalypse Tapestries
About the author:
Randi Ward is a poet, translator, lyricist, and photographer from Belleville, West Virginia. She completed her undergraduate degree at Ohio University and subsequently earned her MA in Cultural Studies from the University of the Faroe Islands.
In 2013, Ward won the American-Scandinavian Foundation’s Nadia Christensen Prize for her translation of Tóroddur Poulsen’s Fjalir (Planks, 2013). This marked the first time in the international translation competition’s history that a work of literature translated from the Faroese was awarded the prize. Whipstitches is Ward’s second collection of poetry. Her photography and writing have also appeared in Asymptote, Beloit Poetry Journal, Cimarron Review, Vencil: Anthology of Contemporary Faroese Literature, World Literature Today, and other publications. Cornell University Library established the Randi Ward Collection in its Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections in 2015. For more information about the author and her work, visit randiward.com.