Heather Woods is a lightning rod; her poems abundant with the evanescent, sensual pleasures of God and spirit in this remarkable, transformative first collection. ‘May all beings be full of light and the roots of light,’ she writes, a modern mystic who acts as both a receiver and transmitter of radiance. This is a holy book of the highest order.
D. A. Powell
Somebody shook, then popped the lid on, the Great Hymnal: out flew these devotional lyrics wholly recast — ravenously tender, carnally transcendent, and fearlessly pitched towards ecstasy. Heather Woods reawakens a tradition that Dickinson, George Herbert, H. D. inhabited, whereby the poet constructs a void of self as an act of seduction, a surrender to language that is also a command of sonority and syntax. Light bearing calls down the powers holily and hotly; it filled “me up such// that my seams would burst.”
Heather Woods’ extraordinary debut poetry collection, Light Bearing, is a spell binding, light-charged tour de force. Shot through with ardor, compassion, love and wit, Woods invites us to “commit luminous chaos together and render havoc holy.” These poems swoon, dive, dip, swirl, twirl, and ascend to help us transcend our pedestrian daily cares. Word play offers us new angles into the spiritual and the corporeal. Lines like, “This little light of mine,/ I’m gonna fret and pine,” turn time worn lyrics on their heads and wake us from any dolor to light our way. You’ll have no need for extra candles or a flashlight if the power goes out on a windy night. This shining, glowing book of poems will light the darkest room and your world will be suddenly, brilliantly lit.
Light Bearing is a work that is at once precise, conflicted, unflinching in its gaze. In these pages, I am reminded that the real work of poetry is hidden in the underbelly of its lines, and the complexity of emotions. That is to say these poems are beautiful, dangerous, and devastating to read.
Author photo: Tamara Trejo
Heather Woods received an MFA in Poetry and Teaching from San Francisco State University and an MFA in Writing from the University of San Francisco. At Kenyon College, she received her BA in Comparative Poetics, where she served as Student Associate on the Kenyon Review, and founded Persimmons literary magazine. She presently serves as a reader for Kelsey Street Press in Berkeley. Her work is visible in Jacket, How2, and Switchback. Recently, she collaborated on a festchrift honoring Kathleen Fraser (Nightboat Books). In her non-tome-time, Heather teaches writing to students from kindergarten through college. A San Francisco Bay Area native and fifth generation Californian, Heather has dwelled in Ohio, Minnesota, and Grenoble. Right now, she lives with her husband and their pups on a relic farm along the California coastline. Here, in her writing room, she can hear the sounding Sea.