Page Count: 68
Publication Date: Monday, April 19, 2021
Cover Artwork: Photograph by Alice Pettway. Design by Siobhan Hutson Jeanotte
About this Book
Available for pre-order now. We will ship from 19th April 2021 onwards.
Most experiences lie in the long miles between life’s stations, but we look toward the next town’s lights for reassurance that we will eventually arrive. When those lamps dim, or are passed by in the night, we become disoriented, caught in the blur of a passing landscape. The poems in Station Lights embrace this chaos, seeking understanding in the midst of the unfamiliar.
“Reading Station Lights is like taking a slow hike through all the landscapes of the earth — the claustrophobic undergrowth of forests, the smoke and dust of open plains, and the drenched humanity of city streets. … these poems survive each new wilderness, while always keeping underfoot the path back home.”
“Alice Pettway is not a mere world traveler but a world citizen … [she] explores beyond all imposed borders, all the norms we have accepted onto ourselves, where our relationships are, where our history is, what is self, what is nature.”
“Pettway brings a remarkable perceptiveness … to everyday life in Station Lights. Each poem is a sparkling gemstone of discovery. … Station Lights is marked by the control of a poet operating in the heights of the poetry landscape. These poems will rattle in your brain, proving intensely memorable long after you read the last page.”
Praise for Alice Pettway’s Previous Work
“What sets [Pettway's poems] apart more than any other virtue is the subtle but insistent sense of irony they convey—one of the rarest and most valuable aspects of any art, but especially of poetry.”
“At the last page, I realize Pettway has turned me into the eponymous moth, desperate for that beautiful and dangerous fire that burns in only the best poems but which seems to burn here in every poem.”
“[W]e are from one poem to the next accompanied by her keen eye for the unseen and the nourishment supplied by her own fortitude.”
“Alice Pettway's Barbed Wire and Bedclothes explores the familiar and finds it all akimbo and sharp-elbowed. … These poems are terse, precise, evocative, and sensuous; to anyone grown timid or lazy or comfortable, they send a challenge: ‘cut the barbed wire now and chance the landmines.’”
ALICE PETTWAY is the author of three books of poetry: The Time of Hunger, Moth and Station Lights. Her work has appeared in The Bitter Oleander, AGNI, The Southern Review, The Threepenny Review, and many other respected journals. Pettway is a former Chulitna Artist and Lily Peter fellow. She currently lives near Seattle, Washington.
Author Photo: Una Zhu
Read a sample from this book
This morning you mistook the teapot
for a shoe, understandable
in this city where transubstantiation
is no more divine than wash water
tossed on the street.
I conduct tests to determine
our evolving composition. We float
more easily than when we arrived
at this seaside. We are becoming
smog, dumpling steam, phlegm
in an old man’s throat.
Who knows where it may lead.
Maybe one morning I will be
the shoe, and you the teapot.
Our neighbors will carry us
home finally. I would like that.
You on the stove, me by the door.
Each of us sure of purpose and place.
There’s too much land here, enough to store
every last rotting bit as long as we like. In closer country,
measures are taken, bones dug up after a few years, an emptying
as natural as a weekend morning when the jam no longer fits
on the shelf in the refrigerator, when you pull each tub out
of its corner and pop the lid, examine the damage. The chill
slows things down, but nothing stops the mold. Best to toss
the whole mess in the trash, but even then the spores
get away from you, drifting along the hallway, demanding
attention after the forgetting. They know they were worthy
once of preservation. What is a grave if not a cabinet
for the things we have let wait too long?
In the cold months, my hands reach
for warmth, one sweater at first, then
another. A coat found on a bench.
Wool knitted on small needles.
Quills bristling from rayon. The slow build
of soot on an unkempt chimney.
The thaw comes later each year,
and the zippers are more stubborn.
Last August I bathed in my own heat
until an old woman in the metro yanked
at my sleeve. Coward, she said. And I
was ashamed but also frightened
and could not bring myself
to strip down there in the lights
and the rush of an incoming train.
Copyright © Alice Pettway 2021