Fireproofing the Woods, poems by Katy McKinney
First Prize for Poetry, 2019 North Street Book Prize
"It's hard to know where to stop once you've started / keeping things alive," McKinney writes in this wise and exacting collection of poems that themselves resemble individual trees in memory's own old-growth forest. Fireproofing the Woods chronicles a lifetime spent in the company of and in communion with nature. This lends it a patient, generative energy that mimics the reach of redwoods. Enter its canopy and find in its language refuge.
—Dorianne Laux, author of The Book of Men
Katy McKinney's poems are filled with river mist and the smell of pines and Douglas fir. They speak of a life lived close to nature, following the earth from cycle to cycle and watching the seasons change. She has a true heart and a true eye. This is a fine debut collection.
—Joseph Millar, author of Blue Rust
There is an immense universe in this book, yet Katy McKinney has an ability to focus our attention on the most minute aspects of the natural world, like the worms in her worm bin, and then to take us flying across icy mountains in Alaska. The sadness of a sister's death from cancer, conveyed partly by offering the sister's own words, contrasts with a quiet joy that permeates the poems of daily life—gardening, singing, quilting, even clearing duckweed from a pond. There is a consistency of tending—not only to the seedlings in her care, but to the words she lays out on the page, sometimes in innovative shapes, sometimes formally in sestinas, and once in the stunning pantoum, "Learning Spanish Like Crazy", where the good humor underlying all these poems perfectly matches the form.
—Judith Barrington, author of Horses and the Human Soul
Read the Winning Writers critique
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