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fall 2023, University of Chicago Press
Set in a landscape of red sunsets and wildfire smoke, Queen Anne’s lace on the roadsides, and toxic chemicals in the watershed, Lindsay Turner’s THE UPSTATE is a book about southern Appalachia in a contemporary moment of change and development. Layering a personal lyric voice with a broader awareness of labor issues and political and ecological crises, THE UPSTATE redefines a regional poetic as one attuned to national and global systems. These poems observe and emote, mourning acts of devastation and raging in their own quiet way against their continuation.
The poems in THE UPSTATE arise from moments of darkness and desperation, mobilizing a critical intelligence against the status quo of place and history, all while fiercely upholding belief in the role of poetry to affect these conditions. Turner’s poems weave spells around beloved places and people, yearning to shield them from destruction and to profess faith in the delicate beauties of the world at hand.
on SONGS & BALLADS
"Lindsay Turner's ravishing SONGS & BALLADS takes account of colors, architectures, skies, and the many ways the world is speculatively used and re-used for short-term ends. When to refrain? Refrain now, hold back from harm now, hold on to the world now and now, these elegiac, mysteriously worldy poems sing." (Catherine Wagner)
"'The sunlight was prettier for its uneven distribution,' observes Lindsay Turner, alerting us to the collectivist imperative subtending perception itself. 'Oh share it, share it.' SONGS & BALLADS re-imagines historical poetics - what's the ragged quatrain's job?' - as a critique of our unsustainable political economies. Employing recursive forms from the Medieval ballad to Modernism's differential repetitions, Turner's contemporary stanzas in meditation remediate 'a range of arrangements / demanding attention' for the continuous present. Whether it be 'the pentagons of space in the chainlink' or 'what the animals we saw never knew,' we find, in this work, a world on the verge: 'all systems go and some places broken.'" (Srikanth Reddy)
"Witty, mordant, despairing, yet peculiarly refreshing poems: Lindsay Turner has done the thing few can do - she has made lyric critical; she makes thought sing. 'Tuesday and I want an image / of the ecological condition / these raindrops just aren't normal." These are incantations of and against a seeping duress - with weird skies, ugly offices, bank holidays, ominous weather, bad feelings and wrong life. Her antennae quiver in this mood of disaster, as her poems become a 'keeper of our collective distress.' Songs, ballads, ditties, fractured meditations: these poems offer a countermeasure, a countersong against the modern regime of blighting calculation. With their beguiling and wrong-footing music, these poems keep time and keep our time; they are insistent, seductive, surprising. The ocean, love, a day's measure: are they 'nothing to us'? Are we 'good for nothing'? Keenly intelligent poems of dispossession and divestiture, they crack a smart whip in their ludic and paradoxically soulful deadpan." (Maureen N. McLane)
Lindsay Turner / poet & translator
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