Poetry. Paper, Perfect Bound. 72 pages
2020, ISBN: 978-1-936419-98-2
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Author Judith Kunst’s writing has been compared to the playground game of tetherball: words and ideas fling out to the outer edges of the known yet also stay anchored in the real. Poems in The Way Through take readers forward and backward in time; across geographies; across and around the works of Walt Whitman, Anselm Kiefer, Joseph Stroud, Simone Weil and others; and into the voiced perspectives of ink, paper, children, and a multitude of strangers and friends—all with a steadiness of purpose and a clarity of vision we can trust.
A first collection published later in life, The Way Through earns its experiments with form and its honed assertions about marriage, parenthood, friendship, suffering, art, faith, and more. The book sets up house in the borderlands between the concrete and the ineffable, the given life and the longed-for release or arrival, and that house is a comfortable one: well appointed, sturdy in turbulent weather, and always open for guests.
“Touch your life,” Kunst urges, “And come away from nothing you have touched / unchanged.” Such change in these poems may be as small as two curved marks added to the word “(In) Sufficient” or as big as a paralyzed friend’s decision to laugh again, but with every poem Kunst tests and affirms Weil’s declaration that “This world is a closed door, and at the same time it is the way through.”
Praise for Judith Kunst’s work:
Reading this book felt like a long sideways fall through microclimates of dreaming and waking. The poems themselves are sharp, finely wrought, and as deftly humorous as they are soulful, grounded in the ordinary strangeness of Kunst’s daily experience. Kunst meditates not only on local geographies—New York and the Midwest; meetings, partings, and solitary meanderings—but on the writing and reading life. She makes this kind of penetrating perception look easy, but we know that it’s like the heat and labor required to create a plate of glass: “…almost/ wholly inspired by what’s/come after: the power/ to see through walls.” – Claire Bateman
Having kept Judith Kunst on my poetry radar for many years, I have been watching for the appearance of this first collection of poetry. These are the poems of a lover of the word and of the worlds those words bring into being. These profoundly canny and generative lines actually perform the poetic operation of words; in so doing, they also invite the reader to make new meaning with them. Good journey! – Scott Cairns
With compassion, awe, and marvelous wit, Judith Kunst invites us to explore a woman’s life journey through singleness, marriage, and family in a lovely genesis of fruitfulness. Kunst’s meditations offer an enlightening series of “readings” rendered through a lyric intelligence, one informed by an ekphrastic eye and pen, a philosopher’s sagacity and a poet’s wise heart. The poems in The Way Through blush with distinctive beauty, wonder, and unwavering belief, all held fast in a divine embrace. – Karen An-hwei Lee
Third Anniversary: Leather
As to the hide, how long
till scrapers can be
set aside and polish cloths
and brushes taken up?
As to stitching, how much
hemp, how many holes
will keep the soft skin fastened
to the sole’s persistent rocking?
Such questions are moot, or rather,
mute: if the foot’s learned anything
by now, it knows it cannot tame
the boot by talking.
About Judith Kunst
Poems by Judith Kunst have appeared in Poetry, December, Image, Able Muse, Measure, Southern Poetry Review, Saint Katherine Review, In Posse, and, as Judith McCune, in The Atlantic. Paraclete Press published her first book The Burning Word: A Christian Encounter with Jewish Midrash in 2006. She makes her home with her husband and three sons in Evansville, Indiana, where she works as a grant writer for Youth First, Inc.