Summary: In Evening Chore, Wagner takes us with her to the far pasture, that borderland where at dusk the known meets the unknown, where details are at once familiar and mysterious, where "a kill-deer, plain-collared plover of open fields" circles above us, "with the pull of ocean in its flight."
This landscape is both personal and mythological, evoking those invisible connections that Wagner sensed from her extended Mennonite family as well as from time spent in Kenya, Somalia, and among the Choctaw in Louisiana. These connections bring together what are frequently viewed as opposites: nature and humanity, the dead and the living, time and eternity, mythology, and truth.
In recalling the haunting cry of the muezzin from the mosque, the harmony of a cappella singing and the sure voice of the poet's grandfather as he "shook the cows from the shadows," Evening Chore reverberates with "voices inside of voices, / husks beneath husks." See excerpt in DreamSeeker Magazine, Winter 2003.
"Evening Chore is a terrific book, full of wisdom,
imagination, humor and magic. Shari Wagner's observant eye captures
what has disappeared from view—a vanished bridge, a lost dog, an
amazing heron, a way of life--and preserves it. In poems that are both
calm and exact she records those haunted moments when the present
splits open to reveal the astonishing past.
"With visual acuity and
musical grace, Wagner invites us to hear and see what might be lost,
illuminating for us our common histories as well as the strange and
unfamiliar. We find ourselves standing with her in the garden where
‘the story of what / it loses is the story of what it loves,’ where we
are travelers ‘drifting between darkness and light.’ And in this
drifting we hear her voice calling us to come out of our own shadows as
evening falls, to retrieve a forgotten or silenced voice, to recover
the wonder of a place, and to enter the bittersweet, rhythmic sway of
grief and love."
"These poems balance between
endings and beginnings, between the twilit melancholy of evening and
the jubilant rebirth of morning. A grandfather loses his memory, while
a toddler meets his shadow for the first time. Survivors tend the
graves of ancestors, while the stories of those ancestors, handed down,
light the way for those now living. Even while she laments the losses
that beset any life, Wagner also celebrates the goodness of growing
things in poems charged with the clear light of praise."
Market: Anyone open to poetry that blends high craft with mythmaking, faith, and passion.
The Author: Shari Wagner has an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Indiana University, and her poems have appeared in various literary magazines, including Southern Poetry Review, Indiana Review, Black Warrior Review and in the anthology, A Cappella: Mennonite Voices in Poetry (University of Iowa Press). She has been awarded multiple fellowships from the Arts Council of Indianapolis as well as the Indiana Arts Commission and has taught writing in elementary schools, colleges and nursing homes. Evening Chore is her first collection of poems.
Shelving: Poetry; Anabaptist-Mennonite literature. BISAC: Poetry; RTM: 640 Poetry.
Cascadia Publishing House
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