by Barbara E. Young
978-1-948692-54-0 paper 16.95
978-1-948692-55-7 ebook 9.99
6×9, 104 pp.
Heirloom Language is full of poems about life and dying, growing up and growing old; about how being loved transcends endings, and how sometimes anger and irony are ways of expressing love. I sometimes describe myself as a short-attention-span novelist, and my poems as stories, chapters, characters, notes—trying to make sense of our life. But reality is defiantly chaotic, and makes some poems partial truths, jokes, or outright lies. It isn’t their fault. That’s how things worked out.
Barbara E. Young was born in a Nashville, Tennessee that was nothing like today’s city. She wrote poetry in high school, won a contest with a disappointing prize, went away to a small Baptist college. The nineteen-seventies are a blank during which she gave up writing in the belief that poetry should have something important to say, and she had nothing. Years later she discovered writing prompts, decided that important things were over-rated, and eventually—having found no other calling—began to admit to being a poet. She, husband Jim, and their two cats live in White Bluff, near Nashville.
Heirloom Language is Barbara E. Young’s first project with Madville Publishing.
What readers are saying about Heirloom Language:
Emerson reminds us that all language is fossil poetry. Barbara Young picks up Emerson’s formulation and turns it over in her hands and her mind: “Once upon a time . . . words—some / words—had meanings unlike today’s.” In fact, she transforms the Boston Brahmin’s rocky antique into a gift for the future; that’s the nature of her heirloom language, where both memory and foresight provide this poet’s soulful provisions for her readers, her family, and our coming days. In Heirloom Language, Barbara Young gives us all “a place to sit and knit elation / while the long rains fall.”
—David Baker, author Swift: New and Selected Poems
In Heirloom Language, Barbara E. Young’s mind—“diagrammed like a hurricane”—puzzles over words and existence and the contexts that leave us, in small and big ways, “survivor[s] on a wreck of long days.” Will we be “stunned dull” by the possible, the impossible, the improbable—each becoming ontological—or will we be broken into aliveness by the fact and the force of mystery? There is no condensed version to find in Young’s poems since “any premise has consequences.” Hers is a voice by turns witty and sardonic, wry and bewildered, if not whip-smart and eager to “[t]aste every flower / in the honeycomb.” Her poems are paradoxes and pesterings but also—“letter by letter, / a tear knotted into every syllable”—prayer and lamentation.
—Jeff Hardin, author of A Clearing Space in the Middle of Being