The bluesy, rich, and vital poems in House of Sparrows look for grace and beauty not outside of the suffering world but within it. Betsy Sholl explores the shifting ironies and contradictions in the stories we tell—how the apple is both medicinal and poison, and how the poor are spiritually rich. Her language mines the landscapes of Appalachia, New England, and the works of Dante and St. Francis, seeking music and moral clarity in the breakages and noisy contradictions of life. By turns meditative and vivid, these poems suggest that all journeys are in part journeys of the spirit.
About the Author
Betsy Sholl is the author of nine poetry collections including Otherwise Unseeable, Rough Cradle, Late Psalm, Don’t Explain, and The Red Line. A former poet laureate of Maine, Sholl teaches at the Vermont College of Fine Arts.
“House of Sparrows collects poems that conjure the work of Philip Levine, Ruth Stone, Robert Hayden, and Gwendolyn Books. Like those great poets, Sholl interrogates the gravity and grace of living. This terrific collection, full of remarkable soul and language, reminds poets and poetry lovers of her enduring talent and significance.”—Terrance Hayes
“This magnificent collection proves yet again why Sholl is one of our truly indispensable writers, whose poems engage what must be addressed if we are to fully encounter, as she writes in her triumphant title poem, ‘the wailing, the how, the when.’ I remain awestruck by her artistry.”—Sascha Feinstein
“I love Sholl’s unyielding honesty, the great heart and deep intelligence of her vision.”—Nancy Eimers
“It’s difficult to love the world enough, especially for someone like Sholl, who sees with such searing clarity its cruelty and sorrow. But, like Keats, she dares to, in poem after poem in this masterly collection. And we are all the richer for it.”—David Jauss