Wild sarsaparilla is the fool’s sang.
Follow jack-in-the-pulpit, goldenseal,
cohoshes black and blue. To find true heal-all,
fall head-over, get brave, get fangled up
in bobcat mouths or caves, and wrangle twang
and drawl from fiddleheads into a single
clear-cut note. Then forage through the leaf-
like chiming, sundried light. Hear me, stranger?
Feel it pull you underground, elide
you—forest-body, heart, and mind—to root,
moving through the dirt, a shape like a person.
You are wherewithal and you are wild.
cohoshes black and blue—
You are real and dream and dissolute.
I mean you are a tangle and a song.
“Gloss is not a volume for the hasty or fainthearted reader, but it is brightly and endlessly inventive and surprising.”
Stewart “has given us sorrow and uplift, despair and hope, in language that satisfies our yearning for beauty even as we read of destruction.”
—The Journal-News [read the full review]
“Even at her most playful, Ida Stewart brings deep feeling and serious insight to the page as she propels her readers from poem to poem.”
—The Journal [read the full review]
Ida Stewart asks “the reader to slow down and reconsider what is usual and accepted. In doing so, she brilliantly leads the reader by the hand down a path of complex contemplation.”
—Flycatcher [read the full review]
“Think Marquez in Appalachia, Kay Ryan at a strip mine, and you still won’t have the whole of this brilliant book. In Gloss, Ida Stewart makes magic out of a mountain, out of a childhood lived in West Virginia and the relentless pillaging of that land by commercial interests—and never once does she compromise her art with cliché or polemic. Conscientious, charming, cunning, and complex: Gloss is a significant poetic debut.”
“Ida Stewart’s marvelous debut is pitch-perfect whether one thinks of pitch as a reference to the extraordinary qualities of sound here, or a reference to the velocity of this poet’s verbal curveballs and changeups. “Oh, we’re always in a fix // here, fixed, fixing, asphyxiating / on the basics—the carburetor, the heat, / that lazy no-good someone, the mountain / breathing down our necks,” Stewart writes in one of her many euphonic poems. Even the recurring image of mountains comes to represent pitch as the slope between gravity and levity, mayhem and harmony. Few poets combine such a musical ear with such transfixing insights and associations.Gloss is a brilliant and endlessly resonant first book.”
“Musical and deeply rooted in a sense of place, Ida Stewart’s debut poetry collection highlights the essential element of sound within contemporary poetry.”
—New Pages [read the full review]
Listen to Ida Stewart read and answer questions about GLOSS. Click here.
Listen to selections from Gloss read by Ida Stewart at Perugia Press’s 20th anniversary celebration at Smith College, Northampton, MA, on November 12, 2016:
Poems, “Ginseng,” “Soil,” “Point Blank,” and “Casserole”:
92 pages, $16.00