Surfacing

Kathleen Jamie. trade paper , $17 ISBN 978-0-14-313445-9
In a lyrical, beautifully rendered collection of essays, poet Jamie (Sightlines) meditates on the natural world, lost cultures, and the passage of time. The book’s title relates most directly to its two longest (and most philosophically engaging) pieces, both about archaeological digs. For “In Quinhagak,” Jamie travels to a small Alaskan village to help with collecting artifacts from the period before the arrival of Europeans. Seeing how “the past can spill out of the earth, become the present,” she immerses herself in the way of life of the local Yup’ik, who are deeply knowledgeable about their natural surroundings and acutely present in the moment. In “Links of Noltland,” she visits the Scottish town of Pierowall, where archaeologists are uncovering Neolithic and Bronze Age dwellings, producing information about “ordinary people’s ordinary lives” from millennia ago. Yet, Jamie insists, “those people’s days were as long and vital as ours.” Later, in “The Wind Horse,” Jamie recalls traveling to Tibet in 1989 and hearing fragmentary reports of the Beijing student protests, distressing information that she juxtaposes against the tranquility of a Buddhist monastery. Jamie’s observations about time and the interconnectedness of human lives, past and present, are insightful, and her language elegant. The result is a stirring collection for poetry and prose readers alike. George Lucas, Inkwell Management. (Sept.)
Reviewed on : 06/18/2019
Release date: 09/24/2019
Genre: Nonfiction
Book - 978-0-525-50625-6
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Audio book sample courtesy of Penguin Random House Audio
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