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joan kane

Joan Kane

Joan Kane

The Cormorant Hunter's Wife


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The Cormorant Hunter’s Wife is a groundbreaking collection of poems made of one long breath. The breath is enough to carry you the distance it takes to fly to the moon and return in one long winter night. I have been looking for the return of such a poet. Joan Kane crafts poems as meticulous as snowflakes. She is visionary and the poems carry this vision with solid grace.
—Joy Harjo

These poems are much more than verbal constructs, though their language alone is enough to keep you reading. Joan Kane’s mind spends much time with itself; her eye sees itself as part of the landscape, which in this collection is meticulously rendered, “a bewilderment of white.” She does not find metaphors for life in the wilderness, but rather observes patterns of nature that life bears out. Hers is a voice without cultural or self-reference, a voice without verbal-technics—as rare and stark as the main climatic idiosyncrasy of these poems “a year of two winters.”
—Pricilla Becker

These poems are original, unsentimental, plain, and mysterious. There is something of Lorine Niedecker’s Wisconsin, and something of Willa Cather’s Nebraska or New Mexico in Joan Kane’s Alaska. And something more, “on the border of speech,” which yet gives us a new sense – or maybe retrieves an old sense – of experience. Sometimes, in these poems, description, and what we cannot quite find words for, underneath it, are enough; in fact, more than we would have known how to ask for: a lost people – a shaman’s voice – the voice of a glacier – of a shell? “In a room in which you’re found at every margin, Forgetting you is nothing but a long discipline.”
—Jean Valentine

About the Author

Joan Kane is Irish and Inupiaq Eskimo, with family from King Island and Mary’s Igloo, Alaska. She earned her bachelor’s degree from Harvard College and her M.F.A. from Columbia University. Kane received the John Haines Award from Ice Floe Press in 2004, was a semi-finalist for the Academy of American Poets’ Walt Whitman Award in 2006, and received a 2007 individual artist award from the Rasmuson Foundation. In 2009 her play, “The Gilded Tusk,” won the Anchorage Musuem theater contest and she was selected as a finalist for the Poetry Foundation’s Ruth Lilly Fellowship. She is a 2009 Whiting Writers’ Award Winner. Along with her husband and son, she lives in Anchorage, Alaska.

Read about Joan Kane:
Anchorage Press
Anchorage Daily News

Selected Poem: Antistrophic

A new angle of light this evening,
South— south
West, shadows cast upwards bough upon bough
Also in disagreement. Another
Would mutter green
Amidst the black scrag of dense limbs
But already the light is fading
And contrary.

Instead of out, I am in,
Trying at the old habit of imperfect definition
As well as the less familiar,
Between falling gold

Trees I have learned not to name

And gold pulled
Of the sun as it fails.

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