A collection that begins with this line..."Once we even used bacon grease-" is one that gets your attention quickly. Readers realize soon that this collection tells the story of the diagnosis, treatment, and recovery from breast cancer. The shock of diagnosis gives way to a poet's wondering why and how and when, and then poet Kirkpatrick takes her readers through the entire course. There is the clinical reality that begins with denial and gives way to words a woman "never imagined you'd ever need to hear: it's time to save your life."Along the way in this lyrical path, there is the kindness of strangers, like the woman whose son is in chemo who befriends the narrator, and the lover who gently touches her scars as an act of foreplay. Ms. Kirkpatrick has also found humor in the struggle in the stories of others, like Glenda who works topless and breastless in her garden even when the neighbors call the cops on her and Donna who gets so excited flat-foot dancing that she takes out her Dolly Parton prostheses and flings them at her surprised partner. Through the course of this collection Ms. Kirkpatrick finds success and hope-small and large-and recovery. Within Unaccountable Weather, the poet's stance and tone remain straight ahead, objective. There is no sentimentalism in this dance between life and death.
In language bald and bristly, Kathryn Kirkpatrick tells of ‘the unimaginable / before us like the raised root on the path / we didn’t see.’ Too stout-hearted to leave us in the valley, she takes us ‘through the scorch / and blister of frost’ to higher ground: ‘warmer air, sunlight / and rain.’ These poems cut straight to bone.
---Dannye Romine Powell, author of A Necklace of Bees
Kathryn Kirkpatrick’s new collection of poems is a book of changes: the woman who undergoes mastectomy, the woman who survives, the woman as mother, lover, goddess. It is as if the poet holds a chemical fire in her hands, daring it to burn. And it does, sparking brilliant poems that scour our consciousness. Her poems grieve, rage, console, sass back, praise, and, though they keep a wary eye on the passage of time, triumph. Here is an honest pain, a real world, and the sustaining beauty of poetry.
—Kelly Cherry, author of The Retreats of Thought: Poems
Kathryn Kirkpatrick’s newest collection extends her already considerable accomplishment as a poet of narrative and metaphorical brilliance. The poems in Unaccountable Weather, many of them arising out of the poet’s own past struggle with breast cancer, are also moving studies in empathy. Voicing other women’s experiences as well as her own, and extending associations beyond the human to other animals, she advocates for “the body’s dignity, / even in the dismemberings.” Through the power of myth and the richness of Kirkpatrick’s imagination, we are treated to such poems as “The Garden of Lost Breasts,” and figures, among other goddesses, like the bird goddess: “Torso slim against a giant moon, / wingtips arcing the sun’s yolk, / she is pure possibility/ at that moment before/ category.” These are astonishing, unforgettable poems.—Susan Ludvigson
Kathryn Kirkpatrick is a poet of such thoroughgoing honesty that reading some of these poems feels like eavesdropping. What makes this book memorable is how she weaves her own perspective into a tapestry of other presences, creating a chorus of wounded, healing women. Who is speaking this book? The feminine. Everywoman in her fear, her wit, and her interior grace.
---Kathryn Stripling Byer, former NC Poet Laureate and author of Descent
Through her persistence in drawing the reader’s attention again and again to interconnectedness and its consequences, Kirkpatrick’s Unaccountable Weather, though not an overtly “political” book, sings a quiet but insistent ecofeminist anthem.
---Dorine Jennette, Terrain.org
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