Perch seeks to blur the boundaries between the individual and the natural world, as our personal and public histories are inseparable from our connection to the land and all of its inhabitants. This collection is about deeply-rooted grief, the vastness of the land and its power to both bear and consume, the singular moments of wholeness in bird songs, and of the wisdom of elder pines. The poems explore the inseparability of land from sky, human from animal, loss from love, and, most importantly, they ask what story we are writing to leave behind.
Courtney Huse Wika believes in the art of collection: overheard quotes, forgotten stories, and sometimes animals. She is the author of Perch, a chapbook of nature poetry from Anchor and Plume Press, and her creative work has appeared in Kindred, Midwestern Gothic, Scissors and Spackle, Backwards City Review, Paddlefish, 605 Magazine, Life on the Farm and Ranch: A South Dakota Anthology, and The MacGuffin. Her collaborative work with artist Becky Grismer has also appeared in numerous juried shows and galleries in the United States. She received her BA in Philosophy and English from Augustana University, her MA and PhD in English with a specialization in Creative Writing from the University of South Dakota, and currently teaches in the Black Hills of South Dakota.
Courtney Huse Wika tells us in one of her poems that “We are told that hope is a thing with feather/but love is a thing with a song”—and this beautiful chapbook of poems is indeed a series of love songs: to nighthawks and cranes, stuffed animals and cut glass, dancing to Tom Petty and how even humble “clay can never lead to disaster.” Reading Perch I was/am reminded of what poetry can and must do, and which she does so passionately and so singularly—sing the world back into wholeness again even while recognizing that people, places, and memories keep breaking down into glowing shards of love and loss and cherished remembrance.
Even though she declares herself to be “the keeper of useless facts,” these same facts in her generous words become ever more glowing shards of truth whose light can lead us all.
—Robert Vivian, author of Mystery My Country and Least Cricket of Evening
The gorgeously organic poems of place, nature, animals, and memory in Courtney Huse Wika’s Perch are infused with light, sky, and birdsong, and pierced by haunting moments of loss and loneliness. These elegiac lyrics of weathered and weathering seasons reveal a poet who sees with a keen eye and feels with a tender heart all of the splendor and cruelty of South Dakota’s Black Hills; one who acutely discerns the languages of trees and birds; one who will—“like the common nighthawk / winging through the darkness”—snatch “fireflies from the night sky / to lay a hundred stars at your feet.”
—Lee Ann Roripaugh, author of Dandarians
In the poems contained in Perch, Courtney Huse-Wika finds seams between the human and natural worlds and explores them with such unerring ease and clarity that the worlds are revealed as co-creations. These poems emanate from a core of longing but explore it in a such a way that we’re not quite sure whether it comes out of the human heart or into us from the world. It may be expressed in the broken bodies of birds, or the empty trees from which a bullet has chased them, or by the repressed and powerful action of a woman so stingy and hard-bitten she will expend nothing on her husband’s funeral other than a single orange, but which, in Courtney Huse Wika’s adept handling, becomes an outrageous lavishing of grief and loss.
—Kent Meyers, Author of Twisted Tree and The Work of Wolves
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