Mystical and visual—Karla Linn Merrifield’s latest volume of poems, Athabaskan Fractal, takes the reader on a monumental journey across the Far North of the American continent. Here is a collection that is surprisingly beautiful. Here is a reverence for nature where lush descriptions abound. Here is life in all its extravagance and austerity conveyed in poems of intimate details of texture and form and set against the vast sweep of endless space from sea to shining sea. You’ll quickly discover why Merrifield is widely regarded as a supreme observer of the Earth’s majesty.
“In poems of intimacy and celebration, elegy and generous mythologizing, Karla LinnMerrifield’s new book is teeming with the ‘minute particulars’ of her Alaskan travels. Here you will find that the fir trees, the mists, the creatures, the stones themselves come lovingly alive. But in our 21st-century world of ecospheric drama and disarray, the ‘field guide’ reveries are shot through with the stark realities of our desecrating human footprint. Athabaskan Fractal will take you places that Frommer’s and Lonely Planet can only dream of!”
—Ralph Black, Professor of English, The College at Brockport (SUNY), and author of Turning Over the Earth
“‘If I do not drown/ in the snowmelt stream/ I will become the mountain.’ This evocative line from Karla Linn Merrifield’s passionate ode to the Far North, Athabaskan Fractal, sets the theme of the poet’s reverence for nature as well as her transmogrification into the natural wonders themselves, in which she sometimes becomes that which she celebrates. Lush descriptions abound: “Rampant indigo peavines/ & buttery compositae in the timbered gloam/ became all the blue & yellow I could hold,” and the poet’s prescriptive: “Do not be afraid of the universe/ even when rainbows die in oil spills/ & wolves are changed to leashes.” Merrifield is widely regarded as a supreme observer of the Earth’s majesty; this new collection is surprisingly beautiful.”
—Laury A. Egan, author of Presence & Absence
“To encounter the Far North is to confront great contrast: the seasonal flux of darkness and light, life in all its extravagance and austerity, intimate details of texture and form set against the vast sweep of endless space. And the North also is a place in which people are simultaneously at home in, and at war with, the world—a region warming at twice the global average. In Athabaskan Fractal, Karla Linn Merrifield traverses this world of wonder and desire, sadness and loss. In her poems, she focuses her (and our) attention on the beauty, depth, and expanses of this landscape and its residents, and the terrible tragedy wrought by our hydrocarbon-fueled dreams.”
—Christopher Norment, professor of environmental science and ecology, The College at Brockport (SUNY), and author of Return to Warden’s Grove: Science, Desire, and the Lives of Sparrows… Read More