Some Notes You Hold: New and Selected Poems
by Rita Quillen
978-1-948692-44-1 paper 16.95
978-1-948692-45-8 ebook 9.99
6×9, 80 pp.
Cover art by Suzanne Stryk
Some Notes You Hold is about surviving what life throws at us as we age. The so-called “Golden Years” are so named because of the high admission price—the tremendous losses, disappointments, illnesses, and failures we all experience if we live long enough.
The first part of the book, called “Letting Go,” focuses on surviving deep grief; the second half, called “Holding On,” explores all the roads leading to survival: playing music, prayer and meditation, deep communion with the natural world, and writing.
The price paid for those “golden years” leads to the prize: insight, joy, and a kind of peace we were incapable of when we were young.
Rita Quillen’s new novel Wayland, a sequel to Hiding Ezra, will be published by Iris Press in fall, 2019. Her full-length poetry collection, The Mad Farmer’s Wife, was published in 2016 by Texas Review Press, a Texas A & M affiliation and was a finalist for the Weatherford Award in Appalachian Literature from Berea College. Her novel Hiding Ezra, released by Little Creek Books, was a finalist for the 2005 DANA Awards. One of six semi-finalists for the 2012-14 Poet Laureate of Virginia, she received three Pushcart nominations, and a Best of the Net nomination in 2012. Read more at www.ritasimsquillen.com.
Framed within the twin templates of scripture and domestic ritual, these poems pay loving homage to hard times and the resilience it takes to survive them. Quillen often employs a colloquial voice that perfectly fits these poems, poems that ring as brightly as the “big bell on the steeple” of the family church, narrative poems animated by metaphors of music, “music . . . the creek you swam in.” I am grateful for this collection and how it unfailingly reminds me that beyond heartache, poetry persists in offering deep solace.
—Marc Harshman, author of Woman in Red Anorak, winner of the 2017 Blue Lynx Prize for Poetry.
As I’ve heard it said that harmony creates a longing in the voice, this book creates a longing in the heart—for all that passes as well as for all that endures. Rita Quillen draws for us a world that holds both abundance and quiet, joy and “grace from going without.” Some Notes You Hold is itself a “holy chorus” bringing the human voice together with “wolf howl, cooing doves, hallelujah magpies.”
—Diane Gilliam, author of Kettle Bottom
“Heart wide as the river, / spirit open and at risk every moment / yet strong enough to stand all the sadness and sweet longing”—that’s how Rita Quillen praises fiddlers who take listeners to “the exact spot where music lives.” Those words also perfectly describe Quillen’s own art in these radiant poems. Her deft, generous voice travels the octaves from “the tiny cosmos of root, stem, and vein” to the human complexities of hard work, loss, and love. Quillen knows in her blood that language is the music of living, and her readers will savor her every word.
—Lynn Powell, author of Season of the Second Thought, winner of the Felix Pollak Prize