Raising the Arsonist’s Daughter from the Dead by Kate Irving



These poems carefully examine the particulars of family in beautiful language that vibrates with sorrow. The slant light of Dickinson’s truth-telling seems at work here as the landscapes of family – garden, kitchen and bedroom – flow throughout the collection. But these places of tradition can be treacherous. The myth of good daughter and wife can ravage “soil and roots, / bittersweet tangling narcissus.” Survival is about “that febrile, / breathless moment the arsonist’s daughter / kindled the dark.” From the smoke comes a changed woman, hewn from ash and rubble, spit and tears. There’s no happy ending in this fine collection, but rather a clear-eyed understanding that one must “sit on a cold rock and love these / littered banks of washed silt and moss.” These are lean, lovely poems worth returning to often, poems that look at how families hurt and break, offering us as well the woman who does indeed kindle the dark.

–Pamela Hart, NEA Creative Writing Fellow and author of The End of the Body

Rating: ***** [5 of 5 Stars!]


“Enamored of what vanishes,” the complexities of loss and keeping, and of memory are presented in a Heraclitian style: “On the way up I was taught everything’s ushered down….” Kate Irving’s first chapbook is a toast to and kept promise of “writing a handbook for mortals.”

–Nick Johnson, Editor, BigCityLit.com and author of Degrees of Freedom

Rating: ***** [5 of 5 Stars!]




Raising the Arsonist’s Daughter from the Dead

by Kate Irving

$12, paper

Kate Irving grew up in New York City where she studied art and theater, but landed in the music business writing lyrics and making a living as a studio singer for television and radio jingles, film themes, and numerous record dates. These days she sings a cappella chamber music. Her early poetry writing took a hiatus until she became a mother, during which time she also wrote and edited newsletters for educational and non-profit organizations promoting organic farming and sustainable agriculture, and lobbied in Washington D.C. and Albany for the reduction of pesticide use in public school buildings and parks. Her poems have appeared in, among others, BigCityLit.com, Live Mag!, Over the Walls, Plush, Press 1, qaartsiluni, Stained Sheets, Tamarind, What Comes Next, and White Rabbit. She has work in the 2014 anthology Estrellas ēn ēl Fuego (Stars in the Fire): The Alternative New Year’s Day Spoken Word / Performance Extravaganza. Kate is also a serious cook – a different but similarly creative outlet that nourishes.

Rating: ***** [5 of 5 Stars!]


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