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Stairway to Heaven: Poems (Penguin Poets) (Paperback)
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A new collection from a poet who “writes with scrupulous and merciful passion about every kind of relatedness—family, place, politics, and wildlife” (W. S. Piero)
In her fifth book of poems, Stairway to Heaven, Alison Hawthorne Deming explores dimensions of grief and renewal after losing her brother and mother. Grounded in her communion with nature and place, she finds even in Death Valley, that most stark of landscapes, a spirit of inventiveness that animates the ground we walk on. From the cave art of Chauvet to the futuristic habitat of Biosphere 2, that inventiveness becomes consolation for losses in family and nature, a means to build again a sense of self and world in the face of devastating loss.
About the Author
Alison Hawthorne Deming is the author of four collections of poetry, including Science and Other Poems (winner of the Walt Whitman Award) and Rope. Her works of nonfiction include The Edges of the Civilized World (a finalist for the PEN Center USA/West Award) and Zoologies: On Animals and the Human Spirit. The recipient of a 2015 Guggenheim Fellowship Award, she is a professor of creative writing at the University of Arizona and lives in Tucson.
Advance Praise for Stairway to Heaven
“Deming’s sophisticated yet accessible work is an ecopoetic disquisition and aphoristic guidebook, but most saliently, it is an imagist gem that is urgent and masterly in its evocation of place, liminality, and waking dreams.” – Publishers Weekly
“Voice as ‘shelter and invitation’ – this is exactly what Deming’s voice becomes in Stairway to Heaven. Shelter from the madness threatening all natural gravities; invitation to wisdom and deeper knowing, woven of intricate knowledge and care. This is a book to climb with, again and again.” – Naomi Shihab Nye
“Never was a book of elegies so suffused with life as Stairway to Heaven--with life and with the painful joy that arrives in, as part of, an earthly body. Aptly, the book's title directs us at once toward the place we imagine awaits us after this life and to the actual sky in which we imagine it, even when we don't believe in any afterlife. What these poems compellingly argue, through their intense presence, is that what we find here, even as we feel ourselves leaving it, is more than enough.” – Katharine Coles
“These are beautiful, planetary poems spanning the stretch between mind and cosmos, teasing out how the living things of this world work and why we love them so much.” – Kim Stanley Robinson
“In this splendid collection, the poet is exquisitely attuned to nature's cycles and the mortality of loved ones. Particularly moving is the poem ‘The Luminous Mother,’ where she prays for the rising atoms of her mother and brother and teaches us how to grieve without losing our sense of awe.” – Phillip Lopate
"Alison Deming knows more about the world than almost anybody, and thank the stars she's willing to share her wisdom." – Bill McKibben