the hauntRoad

Karen Garthe


ISBN  978-1-947980-37-2      100 pages        $15.00


Through what terrain does the hauntRoad traverse? Somewhere between the decrepitude of the final exhalation and the first cold intake of eternity. A place of apparitional traces and overheard spirits, of perpetual disturbance and cosmic eavesdropping. When Karen Garthe says “hear Ye  see Ye” she becomes our town crier of infinity, an impossible seeming act that only art can make actual. While wielding a language of many registers, and with associative leaps that can be as nervy, instinctive, and primal as they are jaunty, worldly, and elegant, Garthe creates a late lyric gasping of deft tenderness toward all the vanished and vanishing world.

     —Jeanne Marie Beaumont, author of Letters from Limbo


We are awed by Garthe’s furtive elegance, her unwavering rigor. Slowly, like the best mantras, her words lead us away from ourselves and other distractions. What are these poems about? What is water or blood about? the voracious generosity of the withheld? the ineluctable presence of absence? the head-on collision between Captain Beefheart and Emily Dickinson? Witness in the hauntRoad the ecstatic leaps of wrought faith across grand synaptical expanses, operating like zen koans, like those riddles that trick us away from the big-talking self and toward satori. I hear paradigms shift, I hear Miles Davis’s breathtaking spaces between notes and see Garthe’s words as the sheet music to Ascenseur pour l’échafaud.

     —Bart Plantenga, author-dj of Radio Activity Kills


Toward the end of this book a question arises: “Why not brightness?” Consider the question itself an earned, necessary achievement derived from complexly textured language and a stimulating engagement with “boats and grammars of mercy.” These poems of constant motion, these words walking rowing floating and streaming down the pages, tell us the necessary truths: “Nothing’s yours. . .not the dog    the baby    or the walls of man / not the names of ownership.” But even more urgently, they make us feel physical engagement with the page. As the book moves to a close “the lilies stand their dream open” and then a fabulously complex image of “a leopard to stalk / the bright / end of the cave” fills me with hope. This is what words can do when wielded with passionate intelligence.

     —Bin Ramke, author of Light Wind Light Light

Karen Garthe is author of frayed escort (winner of the 2005 Colorado Prize), The Banjo Clock (University of California Press, 2012) and a chapbook Café between wars (Red Glass Books, 2014). Her poetry and essays appear in numerous print and online journals. She lives in New York City.