May the Owl Call Again: A Return to Poet John Meade Haines, 1924-2011 by Rachel Epstein

May the Owl Call Again: A Return to Poet John Meade Haines, 1924-2011
Editions:Hardcover: $ 40.00
ISBN: 979-8891455900
Size: 6.00 x 9.00 in
Pages: 249

Alaskan poet John Haines has been gone for more than a decade now, but his singular voice stays with me—the deep quiet of it and its enchantment, the spareness of his lines—Li Po transposed to the far north. Much else is here to muse on and admire—his charming letters to Rachel Epstein, photos of his homestead in Richardson, transcripts of talks given, memoirs of a vanished Alaska, selected essays, notes on the imagination’s relationship with the natural world, even recollections of his service on a destroyer in the Pacific toward the end of WW II. May the Owl Call Again is a moving and memorable collection, and at its heart is Haines’ haunting poetry.

—Marc Hudson, poet, translator, and an emeritus professor at Wabash College. His most recent book of poems is East Of Sorrow.

May the Owl Call Again bears witness to the last years of Haines' life—his thoughts, humor, melancholy, a profound awareness of Alaska’s rhythms, and his struggles with engagement in a broken world. But, above all, it is a meditation on friendship and the solace of intimacy that can be found in the handwritten page. It’s a testament to care, the aches of connection and solitude, and the consolation of finding kinship with another. I found myself reading it all at once and walking away with a profound sense of gratitude for Epstein sharing this Haines with all of us.

—Freya Rohn, poet and founder of Ariadne Archive

What a fine tribute this collection is. That Rachel Epstein corresponded so frequently with John in his last years is both touching and laudable. He clearly appreciated the long-distance friendship. I was saddened by the elder poet’s references to loneliness and failing health while simultaneously uplifted by his endlessly inquisitive mind, sense of humor, and ongoing interest in literature and the arts. Re-reading the poems and essays included here, I was moved again by the wistful and sometimes dark tone and the seeming simplicity of language. John Haines will be remembered as one of Alaska’s greatest thinkers and writers.

—Anne Coray, poet and author of Bone Strings

Rachel Epstein artfully constructs a sensitive portrait of poet, John Haines, in the evenfall of his life, through a series of letters exchanged with the author. Revealed in this correspondence is a man with a giant intellect, a deep curiosity, and a true interest in the present-day world. His reputation as curmudgeon is not evident as he writes to Epstein about cats, sends her cards (mostly cats, mostly humorous), and comments on life while exhibiting a dry wit and wry sense of humor. He recommends films and books related to interests she has expressed. In this, he proves himself to be a generous and attentive friend. In addition to the letters, Epstein includes a broad selection of poetry that reflects the range and content of Haines’ work. I was particularly glad to see she included “Rain Country,” a poem I have reread over the decades. I still find myself drawn into that country anew, as if reading the poem for the first time, the poet not old, not yet. Ultimately, Epstein’s purpose in writing this book is best expressed by her: My hope is that John Haines will not fade from collective memory but will continue to influence, inspire, and nurture creative expression within and beyond Alaska. Her fine work represents a great contribution to that effort.

—Gretchen Diemer, poet and author of Between Fire and Water, Ice and Sky


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Publisher: Sandra Kleven
Imprint: Cirque Press

Cirque Press Author — Rachel Epstein

Rachel Epstein was the Special Events Coordinator at the University of Alaska Anchorage Campus Bookstore from 1999 - 2020. She is the recipient of the 2012 Contributions to Literacy in Alaska Award (CLIA), the 2020 Alaska Governor’s Award for Service to the Humanities in Education, and the 2023 University of Alaska Anchorage Meritorious Award.

Her home is San Manuel, Arizona where she resides with Brian and their 2 cats.