The Mouth of Earth: Poems (Test Site Poetry Series) (Paperback)

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In this timely and moving collection of poems, Sarah P. Strong explores what it means to live in a world undergoing an irrevocable transformation, the magnitude of which we barely comprehend. A broad range of perspectives shows us different times and places on Earth while unfolding the cyclical nature of human denial and response. A series of linked persona poems about the Dust Bowl recounts the destruction of the Great Plains and how human dreams of plenty destroyed the ancient fertility and stability of the land, how heartbreak and denial contended with bureaucratic insolence. In an imagined view of our planet as it might appear millennia from now, the Earth is "a worry stone / in the pocket of space, or a mood ring / on the finger of a newly minted / god."

The Mouth of Earth serves as both a survival guide for those seeking connection with our planet and one another as well as a compassionate tribute to what we have lost or are losing—the human consequences of such destruction in a time of climate crisis and lost connectivity. Strong’s powerful poems offer us, if not consolation, at least a way toward comprehension in an age of loss, revealing both our ongoing denial of our planet’s fragility and the compelling urgency of our hunger for connection with all life.

About the Author

Sarah P. Strong is the author of Tour of Breath Gallery, and two novels, The Fainting Room and Burning the Sea. Their work has appeared widely, including in The Nation, Poetry Daily, Cimarron Review, The SouthwestReview, The Southern Review, Verse Daily, and The Sun. They live near New Haven, Connecticut.


Praise For…

Sarah P. Strong is a nimble explorer of visible and invisible boundaries, and each of their poems is part of a quest toward wonder and re-envisioning, a quest to go beyond, as the best poems do, the “edge of thinking.”

— Mary Szybist, author of Incarnadine, winner of the National Book Award

This dynamic, multi-dimensional and supple collection engages with historic patterns of struggle, privilege, blindness, and above all, empathy. The themes of environmental ruin and the effect and plight of humans on this planet feel urgent rather than gloomy in these poems, a feat Strong pulls off by getting past and present and disparate places and experiences to resonate and chime. There’s something idealistic in this, an alertness and interconnectedness that reads in a sense as hope. The Mouth of Earth is impressive work—coherent and varied, thoughtful and full of lovely things.

— Daisy Fried, author of My Brother is Getting Arrested Again, a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award

This beautiful collection is wise as it is candid, offering deftly woven lyrical gifts to the reader even as it reminds us of what we’ve done to the earth. These poems like divining rods find healing waters in the dust bowls of our toughest landscapes, intertwining parenthood, history, the body, and contemporary ecological and political concerns. . . . These poems are at once tender and incisive; they cut straight to the heart.

— Jennifer Givhan, author of Rosa’s Einstein and Girl with Death Mask

Passionately (but never stridently) devoted to ecological thematics, these poems constitute a vivid geography of concerns and commitments, all the while maintaining high artistic standards and uttermost sensitivity to matters of craft.

— Donald Revell, professor of English, University of Nevada, Las Vegas

Ecological in its concern and wisely tender in regard to the people and history who brought the planet to such an endangered state . . . Sarah Strong’s book is driven by their love of the earth and wish to understand how and why our civilization has found itself at this critically dangerous juncture.

— Sasha Steensen, author of House of Deer: Poems and professor of English at Colorado State University

In Sarah P. Strong’s compelling The Mouth of Earth, the earth-made dust, water’s lack, and the fire that conquers, are the main characters. The power in Strong’s book is evident in the way in which I felt reading these poems, that I too was situated in the remnant elements, where dryness is only succeeded by the thirst it brings. People often say that a book is ahead of its time, and Strong’s book may be such a book.

— Claudia Keelan, Barrick Distinguished Scholar at University of Nevada, Las Vegas

Product Details
ISBN: 9781948908849
ISBN-10: 1948908840
Publisher: University of Nevada Press
Publication Date: October 6th, 2020
Pages: 80
Series: Test Site Poetry Series