ALONE IN THE HOUSE OF MY HEART
Ohio University Swallow Press
ALONE IN THE HOUSE OF MY HEART
"A breathtaking, artful set of poems on loss, family, place, and memory.
We reckon that nine generations in Appalachia is long enough for a place to get in the bones of a family, and that kinheritance has marked Kari Gunter-Seymour with an intuitive feel for one of America’s most isolated and peculiar regions.
Matt Sutherland, Foreword Reviews
Echoing environmental poetic manifestos like James Still’s Hounds on the Mountains … and reminiscent of Irene McKinney’s [work] Alone in the House of My Heart is a celebration of the self, rugged individualism, and a mosaic in verse of the people and traditions which shape Appalachia.
Nicole Yurcaba, Southern Review of Books
"Gunter-Seymour’s talent shines like a diamond in this collection: solid, clear, sparkling." Donna Meredith, Southern Literary Review
"Kari Gunter-Seymour’s new book, Alone in the House of My Heart, feels like an invitation to pull up a chair at her kitchen table and stay awhile.
“The poems of Kari Gunter-Seymour’s Alone in the House of My Heart are ragged with loss, yet sustained by all they take in through the senses, from Mother’s ‘cat-eye glasses, Pentecostal bun,’ whispering ‘loud enough / for the soprano section to hear,’ to ‘collards and heirloom tomatoes / strapped to stakes like sinners / begging the lash.’ As the details accrue, they generate a place conjured by memory, the Appalachia of the speaker’s upbringing, where she nested in the loft of the barn in the hay, ‘spicy sweet,’ and where canned fruit cocktail is the ultimate delicacy. Still, it is a place sowed with the seeds of its own undoing—fracking, coal dust, addiction. Language itself is somehow larger even than the consciousness that creates it, more expansive than right and wrong, and ‘free of the splintery / cold of our foolish selves,’ poetry, which here is synonymous with hard-won love.”
—Diane Seuss, author of frank: sonnets
“Kari Gunter-Seymour weaves memory, place, love, and pain into a vibrant, complex tapestry of her native southeastern Ohio Appalachia. ‘So much here depends upon / a green corn stalk, a patched barn roof, / weather, the Lord, community,’ she writes. The images in these poems are striking, the language fresh. We smell ‘the tang of weeping cherry,’ see up close the devastation of ‘fracking waste, red clay dust, the bitter soot / of coal’s see ya later sucka!’ Her people are flesh and blood: a great-grandfather ‘at seventy, / firm of belly, back plumb as a disc blade,’ her mother ‘bronzed and shapely’ in a field of daffodils. Alone in the House of My Heart is a deeply moving portrayal of family and home, inheritance and loss, written by a poet whose gift is to insist ‘ordinary things be somehow more.’”
—Ellen Bass, author of Indigo
“Kari Gunter-Seymour’s poems are full of passion: passion for people, passion for place, passion for imagination. Her images are ‘pinpricks grey and blue’ that inhabit us as readers, feed us strength, and give us history—the good, the bad, and the triumphant. In poem after poem, [she] gives us a map to the unsayable and the courage to say it. She knows the pleasures of daily living, the dignity of grieving, and the terror of loss. She knows that when ‘the alcohol has stopped working,’ all we have are words to get us by, get us through, and get us over.”
—Allison Joseph, author of Confessions of a Barefaced Woman
It is [the] combination of hard truth and humor, love and the ache of loss right below it that draws me in. These poems stubbornly celebrate the people and landscape of Appalachia, they are American, melancholy, life-loving and I wish I could quote every word of "An Appalachian Woman’s Guide to Drinking” here, but you’ll just have to read it for yourself.
—Alison Luterman, author of In The Time of Great Fires