The Wild Awake: A Reading from the Erotic Compass of the World (Paperback)

A Reading from the Erotic Compass of the World

By Paulann Petersen

Confluence Press, 9781881090434, 84pp.

Publication Date: September 1, 2002



In Paulann Petersen's much anticipated first book, the poet gathers the best work from her two limited editions and adds to them a generous selection of new poems to create a thematic link she subtitles "A Reading from the Erotic Compass of the World." As Pulitzer prize-winner Carolyn Kizer notes, the poems are "tenderly erotic" and "breathe the spirit of a woman who has learned how to live and love-and write." Although the poems are, in Lisel Mueller's words, "as original as they are moving and their language richly evocative and sensuous," The Wild Awake in the title refers us to "the body's intimate relationship with the earth and its rhythms," to the way we experience "light and darkness, sleep and dream, love and hunger. . . ." The wild and domestic gardens of the poet's native Oregon haunt the book, sometimes as subjects individualized in the form of plants ("Oriental Lilies," "Graveyard Narcissus") and animals (a spoonbill, a merman), other times abstracted as produce (a honeycomb, a fur coat) and labor (work, time, sleep). "All poets draw on myth," John Daniel concludes, but "in many of her poems, Paulann Petersen writes myth itself-stories and seeings so true you look again and again, and they're truer."