In Waterlines, Louisiana native Alison Pelegrin gives us poems that describe the terrible power of nature even as they underscore the state’s beauty. The poet moves from the familiar gaudy delights of life in New Orleans to immerse the reader in the vastly different experience of living north of Lake Pontchartrain. In this fractured world, the Bogue Falaya River becomes a highway paved with benedictions, psalms, and praise for ordinary things, as Pelegrin searches the unfamiliar for an incarnation of home.
Water—the threat of hurricanes and floods, as well as the tangled geographies and histories of the rivers and lakes themselves—sustains the poet as she settles into the casual beauty of “the daily route,” finding spiritual depth and delight in both human and natural wonders.
“It’s said that figures as different as Jefferson and Goethe were comfortable in the world because they were at home at Monticello and Weimar respectively, and the same is true of Alison Pelegrin. Waterlines starts locally and then radiates outward, not geographically so much as emotionally and spiritually. There are poems about faith, poems of wry and even scary self-examination, poems that combine these themes and more. Pelegrin stays close to her roots yet journeys out and back, ranging widely and then coming home to tap strength and sustenance. In the end, Waterlines is a big, big book.”—David Kirby, author of Get Up, Please