Radial Symmetry

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Katherine Larson; Foreword by Louise Glück

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Katherine Larson is the winner of the 2010 Yale Series of Younger Poets Competition. With Radial Symmetry, she has created a transcendent body of poems that flourish in the liminal spaces that separate scientific inquiry from empathic knowledge, astute observation from sublime witness. Larson's inventive lyrics lead the reader through vertiginous landscapes—geographical, phenomenological, psychological—while always remaining attendant to the speaker's own fragile, creaturely self. An experienced research scientist and field ecologist, Larson dazzles with these sensuous and sophisticated poems, grappling with the powers of poetic imagination as well as the frightful realization of the human capacity for ecological destruction. The result is a profoundly moving collection: eloquent in its lament and celebration.

Metamorphosis [excerpt]

We dredge the stream with soup strainers 
and separate dragonfly and damselfly nymphs-
their eyes like inky bulbs, jaws snapping
at the light as if the world was full of
tiny traps, each hairpin mechanism
tripped for transformation. Such a ricochet
of appetites insisting life, life, life against
the watery dark, the tuberous reeds. 

Katherine Larson is the recipient of a Ruth Lilly Poetry Fellowship and Union League Civic and Arts Foundation Poetry Prize. She lives in Arizona.

"The poems in [Larson's] first collection, chosen by Louise Glück for the Yale Series of Younger Poets, remind me how necessary poems are to expose the beauty and riddle of our humanity. . . . Larson's work is bracingly artful in its range of formal gestures, tension between line and sentence, and syntactical freedom that creates a music that hastens and halts, not unlike what happens when a dissonant note is hit in a musical composition, making one hungry for a resolution. . . . Radial Symmetry marks the arrival of a poet whose work merits many readings not because it is inscrutable upon first reading, but because it invites sustained attention to the surprising manner in which a poem can hold precise observation in balance with the deeper imprecisions of our emotional and spiritual natures."—Alison Hawthorne Deming, Orion

"Bracingly artful . . . Radial Symmetry marks the arrival of a poet whose work merits many readings."—Alison Hawthorne Deming, Orion

Winner of the 2012 Levis Reading Prize from Virginia Commonwealth University

Finalists for the 2012 ForeWord Book of the Year Award in the Poetry category (winners will be announced 23 June)

Winner of the 2012 Kate Tufts Discovery Award given by Claremont Graduate University
ISBN: 9780300169201
Publication Date: April 26, 2011
96 pages, 6.125 x 8
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