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Water-Dreaming by Deirdre Callanan
2018 * $14.95
Deirdre Grace Callanan’s poems and essays have appeared in such periodicals as Beloit Poetry Journal, the Colorado Review, and Poet Lore. She began her teaching career in Virginia’s Northern Neck in 1970 and subsequently taught in Colorado, Northern Virginia, Washington, DC, and on Cape Cod. During her year as the Massachusetts Christa McAuliffe Fellow, she wrote a text for educators, Windows & Mirrors: Writing’s Power for Illumination & Reflection. Since 2006, she has served on the writing faculty at the Washington Center for Psychoanalysis. Callanan lives in Harwich, MA.
“… Water~Dreaming brings us a fluid world where cycles of descent and ascent collage a disappeared life. Like fragments of lost myths or quilt patches, Callanan’s lyrical short poems hint at a larger fabric beyond the towns flooded in 1939 to provide water for the Boston area and generations to come; once native tribes lived on this lost land and earlier settlers had made it their home. A dead girl floats through this waterscape, recounting for us, in her clear and ringing voice, snatches of the lives of other ghosts. As she moves, she captures the physical world she knew with its hollyhocks and cinnamon ferns, its deer and warbler, and her/our loss, which is also an acceptance. Life goes on, and even though a whisper of the world at war can be heard among the dead, this too signals another cycle. These are poems haunted by loss, yet alive with an appreciation of ‘this place, you, my truth now’ and an acknowledgment of the currents we can only partially control. A lovely but bittersweet paean to life.” --Mary Crow, former poet laureate of Colorado
“…There is much at work in Callanan’s haunting and lyrical collection that finds its basis in the largely forgotten history of the destruction of the Swift River Valley (1937-1938) to enable the creation of the Quabbin Reservoir. The poems tell the stories of the townspeople of Dana, Enfield, Greenwich and Prescott, who were forced to leave their homes, towns, valleys and fields, which were subsequently razed. The poems are rich, dense, and wrenching—at once grounded in history but also dancing in the space between the visible and the invisible worlds. Poetry brings us all kinds of gifts—it can warm our hearts, stir our spirits, tilt our heads, remind us of rhythm, or tell us a story we needed to hear. Water-Dreaming does all of these things, and so much more. It is an ambitious book, and a remarkable accomplishment.” --Lisa J. Starr, former poet laureate of Rhode Island
"A book to keep on your bedside table or in the tin box that holds your dearest things. ... This book will make you feel you've been on a long journey, led by a gentle and considerate spirit, through all airs and waters, to all the deepest truths, to the living and the dead, and set down at the end, safe and nourished, all of life shimmering. … Uncompromising in her quest to fathom how life truly is in this water-land where we dwell, and brave in the face of the most devastating of things, Deirdre Callanan is that rarest of poets: one who can deliver us the stoniest and fiercest truths and leave us shivering with joy. … Water-Dreaming is a celebration. Through keen observations of nature, scrumptious evocations of childhood, delicate metaphors, lightly-brushed images, and a moving story of a lost world, our deepest losses and loves are fathomed, mirrored and affirmed. We stand at the close of the last page, weeping, triumphant." --Sara Taber, author of Born Under an Assumed Name: The Memoir of a Cold War Spy's Daughter and other literary non-fiction