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Crow Mercies

Penelope Scambly Schott


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“Penelope Scambly Schott's Crow Mercies celebrates the naming of small things in order to know basic truths. An accumulative momentum rises out of the mercy of an attentive eye: not for gazing at the surface of things but looking into the heart of what matters, what keeps us fully engaged as humans. There are no shortcuts in Crow Mercies.” Yusef Komunyakaa, author of Warhorses: Poems and winner of the 1994 Pulitzer Prize in Poetry

“There's a knife sharpener in California who ends his notes ‘Stay sharp and shiny.’ This is what Penelope Schott does with words, images, stories, memories—sharp! shiny!—she is not afraid to startle or jolt. A reader feels electrified.” Naomi Shihab Nye, author of Honeybee: Poems & Short Prose (Greenwillow Books)

Crows are loud and insistent. They are smart and relentless. They are not easily tricked. Instead, they play tricks. The mercy they practice is a measured mercy. They are not mean but they are clear-sighted. They see a long distance backwards and forwards. They are dark but shining. Likewise, the poems in Crow Mercies survey large territories, sometimes with an overview, sometimes close-at-claw. Winner of the first Sarah Lantz Memorial Poetry Prize (from CALYX Books), poet Penelope Scambly Schott draws on myriad experiences to bring herself and the reader into a deeper and far-reaching connection to the world.

From "How to survive a fall through the ice":

Always inhabit two climates
Face the direction you came from
Always carry a stout pole

Blindfold all the crocodiles

Think of your maiden great aunt
traveling the world between the wars

Imagine she had an African lover . . .

Penelope Scambly Schott has published three poetry narratives, four poetry collections, and five chapbooks, including Six Lips (2009). She has received a Hopwood Award, a Lannan Foundation Fellowship, a Poetry Society of America award, and four fellowships from the New Jersey

Praise For Crow Mercies

“Penelope Schott’s poems, like shields of hammered copper, stand between a speaker (speaking by turns fierce and tender) and a listening grandson, mother, husband, bear-husband, butterfly sipping from their common cup. … Entering your life, these poems will be invited to stay, even as you feed them, generously one by one, to friends and strangers, but keep the very best close with your secrets.” Kim Stafford, author of The Muses Among Us: Eloquent Listening and Other Pleasures of the Writer’s Craft

“To the primarily narrative tradition of Northwest poetry, poet Penelope Scambly Schott brings a surreal poetry of a rich, inventive imagination. In many poems of Crow Mercies, the unique imagery leaps out as if it has a life of its own, while, at the same time, feeling integrated, indeed essential, to the poem. …” Peter Sears, author of Green Diver (C.W. Books)

“To read these poems is to fall in love (again) with poetry. What the poet says to the lover is offered here to us.... Truly we are fed, surprised, delighted, caused to laugh and to weep in the world that Penelope Scambly Schott brings home to us in Crow Mercies. … She is a master of language.” Pat Schneider, author of Writing Alone and With Others (Oxford University Press)

CALYX Books, 9780934971119, 86pp.

Publication Date: October 1, 2010

About the Author

Winner of CALYX' first Sarah Lantz Memorial Poetry Book Prize, author Penelope Scambly Schott received her MA and PhD in English Literature from City University of New York. During her career, she taught literature and creative writing as a professor at Rutgers University with Adrienne Rich, counseled returning students at Somerset County College in NJ, and wrote software scripts for career guidance. She is currently a faculty consultant to Thomas A. Edison State College, Trenton, New Jersey.

She has published three historical verse narratives, four collections of poetry and five chapbooks, along with a conversation in poetry with Kathryn Stripling Byer. She has edited a collection called Canal.

Recipient of: the Hopwood Award; a Lannan Foundation Fellowship; Poetry Society of America prize; four fellowships from the New Jersey Council on the Arts; Dodge Foundation Fellowship to the Vermont Studio Center; Helene Wurlitzer Foundation Fellowship; the Oregon Book Award for Poetry, 2008.

She participates in several poetry groups including the Cool Women Poets of New Jersey, The Pearls (Portland, OR), Word Sisters, and the Tabus. She is a member of numerous environmental organizations, both national and local.