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“Heidi Seaborn, a new voice: skillful, versatile, memorable.”
The poems in Heidi Seaborn’s first book are as concerned with the physical as the metaphysical; the visceral past as the meditative present. Give a Girl Chaos reminds us of how tenuous and shape-shifting this life is, yet how even chaos has redeeming qualities: “[c]haos is the way in.”
Heidi Seaborn’s Give a Girl Chaos (see what she can do) is a startling first collection. Seaborn’s poetry pays homage to the chaotic world we live in—a world replete with love, divorce, death, rebirth, and family secrets— and transforms this chaos into an maelstromic feast of the senses. Give a Girl Chaos sings of hornet nests, butterfly hordes, moths in bed, and the depths of the heart. We travel through the intricacies of girlhood and womanhood, transforming memory. Deftly lyrical, she seeks language as her compass and verbs as her luggage. In this journey, in this world, Seaborn beautifully asks us to build galaxies amidst the havoc: “I see myself raise my son’s finger/to trace the big dipper little dipper/drizzling/honey onto this/and every night.”
“This poet brings us the sea, the flower bed, small things dying, a heart – all alive and kicking, Heidi Seaborn is a poet of verbs: ice keens, land shoulders an island, clamshells splay and split, things flap and stack; there are fields of flamboyant pink; gardens snap and silos crest —a heart taken out, pulses…this is a remarkable debut of a poet to keep watching.”
A globetrotting executive turned poet, Heidi Seaborn tells the story of a girl finding her path and a woman, her power through poems that engage even the occasional poetry reader. If you read only one book of poetry this year, make it Give a Girl Chaos (and see what she can do).”
“‘What I Knew’ manages to hold two realities at once: that of a young high-school girl in Seattle and of the simultaneous war in Vietnam, melting together the green and mud of both places while comparing their violences great and small. Most surprising is the ending, set on the Fourth of July, when we have a nod to the beauty of such terror, that collective and disturbing “ahhhh.” This poem, deeply internal and moving with surprising associative leaps and overlapping remembrances, holds two vastly different worlds with a quick and limber dexterity and is effective as a poem of witness in its firm grasp on the speaker’s personal experience.”
“When you encounter Heidi Seaborn’s Finding My Way Home, have someone read it to you. Close your eyes and listen. For, this is a poet who will envelope you in memories you didn’t even know you had. The poems in this collection thread together place, family, selfhood, and the power of language. Each verb gathers intensity: “I stirred up a hornets nest/shears jabbing into the brush.” Seaborn’s poems seek the felt, visceral world: a world where you weigh a heart in your hands, where you “fill pockets with shells” in order to make sense of it. This is a lush debut chapbook - as lush as the Pacific Northwest - and whether you want to or not, these poems will ask you to get lost to be found again.”
In this first collection, Heidi Seaborn’s organizing trope is the dynamic play, in vivid imagery, of opposites: from lost(the child-self absorbed in family secrets “written in disappearing ink,” the young woman “caught in a loveless marriage,” her brain “a sub-zero snarl”) to found in the process of illuminating a life. This governing metaphor is both Dantean and Wagoneresque—and in ‘The Poetry Workshop,” dedicated to the renowned Northwest School poet who invites his students “to get lost in the woods” of the imagination, Seaborn discovers her own way out into the clear. This is a poet who, “when it is her turn to lead, takes us deeper still” with wit, seriousness and a “fine sense of direction” in these poems.
“I’ve enjoyed very much immersing myself in your beautiful and affecting poems. You are so very accomplished. Your writing is smart, devoted and almost uniformly quite beautiful despite the subject matter(s). You clearly have the wisdom to enrich your poems with life experience, even though you are mainly (and commendably!) looking outside yourself. In each poem, the interiority suggests an ardent participation in your own life, a penchant for hinting at fine stories, and a fine sense of balance. You are writing on the highest level. You’re the real thing.”