Real Work: Poems (Paperback)
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The poems in Janna Knittel's new collection describe family life on the farm, celebrate natural environments that inspire deeply, process childhood emotions with the help of decades of living, and quietly assuage the wounds suffered due to personal crisis and loss.
A wooden box on a desk, a father's hands, the lives of rabbits and bees, a rare visit to church--these are a few of the subjects illuminated in these finely crafted pieces. A mother's dementia. Meamories of a hardscrabble childhood: listening to the murmuring of voices from the back seat of a truck on long drives home from family camping trips; fishing with Dad; rolling cigarettes with a favorite aunt, roasting salmon whole over coals behind the church.
Locales in Oregon and Minnesota surface: Grand Portage, Isle Royale. Grief arrives with the unexpected death of an older and much admired sister. The details are sketchy but the pain is palpable. A lyric gravity infuses these stark yet often lovely pieces. The real work required on the farm has been transformed repeatedly into acts of literary precision and emotional honesty.