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Laressa Dickey’s debut chapbook is a series of fragments that navigate the wilderness of childhood and home from the perspective of adulthood. Across this wilderness move traveling medicine shows, ambulances, the memory of the mother, the heart. The language of these poems is spare; their syntax is abrupt. They circle around what they want.

In one poem, Dickey asks ‘If you weren’t raised that way, what would that way be—’. This is the collection’s central question: how can we talk about the most familiar things we know, once we’ve left them? The answer A Pictorial History of Wilderness offers is found in its form and its movements. We cannot return to our pasts, but we can collect their fragments and find in these the strange familiarity of those places and those ways.

These are postcards to an estranged past, the recollections that structure movement and its memory.


What others have had to say:

Laressa Dickey's A Pictorial History of Wilderness introduces the work of a vibrant poet. Part visionary, part observer, part loving participant, Dickey writes about the whole world through nature's lens. "Why say wilderness when you mean body," she asks, but in these poems, the body is part of that wilderness, and Dickey is our guide through a compact, complex series of rich lyrics that move the reader across the face of a very beautiful, intimate landscape, one filled with "rare herons," "the world's tallest building," market stalls containing "car parts, a booth of tires, one for chains or engines or fenders," and finally, love: "Late in the night swindles of hair twined where you have run your fingers through." These poems are meditative, lush enough to read again and again.

––William Reichard, author most recently of SIN EATER and editor of AMERICAN TENSIONS. More:

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By turns grounded and in motion, always reflecting a keen awareness of place, these poems remind us that wilderness lives in the gaps of the daily, where the fragment renders us whole and perpetually unfolding. Laressa Dickey's poems ask questions, leap from one stunning image to another, and open up a wandering space that nourishes the reader. “Do not anchor,” she writes, navigating the distances between now and then, here and there, self and other. The result is a poetry that places its trust in the image and music of language as original location.

––Rachel Moritz, author of NIGHT-SEA and THE WINCHESTER MONOLOGUES, poetry editor at Konundrum Engine Literary Review and publisher of WinteRed Press. More:

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A5, approx. 14 pp. Hand-bound.

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