Valediction: Poems and Prose
by Linda Parsons
ISBN: 978-1-956440-61-4 paperback $19.95
ISBN: 978-1-956440-62-1 ebook $9.99
Paul Éluard writes, “There is another world and it is in this one.” Within these worlds, we travel outward and inward, straddling our lives’ oppositions: parental/relationship struggle and loss, home and away, isolation and reconnection, the spiritual/mystical realm and physicality—always balancing grief and reemergence, hello and goodbye. The hybrid nature of Linda Parsons’ sixth collection, Valediction, with poems, diptychs, and micro essays, brings those oppositions into focus and reconciliation and grounds her in the earth under her feet, especially in her gardening meditations. In this striving, we are balanced and grounded with her as she lifts the veil on what it means to live and create fully, even in the face of impermanence.
Cover art by Gary Heatherly, author photo (below) by Kelly Norrell
What People are saying about Valediction
Linda Parsons has written a book we sorely need—lyric meditations composed with an impeccable ear, explorations of family love and loss, flowering and decline, sunderings and difficult reunion. Combining sure-handed verse with prose poems of drastic intensity, Valediction reminds us the world is a cutting garden worthy of relentless tending and care. These hard-won poems are the harvest of a talent in high season.—Bobby C. Rogers, author of Shift Work and Paper Anniversary
For the poet, a garden is world enough. The bee, the singed leaf, the needful dirt, the worm. The tiger lily, fireworks. The moss, its slug. We may enter our gardens thinking we will control the earth, curate it, but we walk out realizing that we’re just another bug with song. (Thank God.) In Valediction the master Tennessean poet Linda Parsons gives us not just her song but the whole oratorio—out from the center of her Knoxville yard she broadcasts the glory of her evening hour, joining in with cicadas and hawks, figs and frost, black widows, and all the ghosts of her ascendants living inside her, the perfect cacophony of love. This book is transcendent.—Rebecca Gayle Howell, author of American Purgatory and A Winter Breviary
“After the long virus winter, how can I be / anything but sun-warm skin and bone / down to my brightening folds, / down to the naked earth”? These lines highlight the many acts of transfiguration found inside this excellent collection by Linda Parsons. Steeped within the natural world, the poems explore the “mired muddy lake bottom of childhood” and weave throughout the collection a series titled “visitations” in which memories and the deceased meld into the present. The poems here are joyful, but it’s a joy that comes hard-earned and clear-eyed. Be they about swimming off the coast of Cuba, reminiscing about the loss of a friend while sledding, or simply tending to the backyard garden, these poems do what all great poems do—they risk wonder despite loss. As Parsons writes in “October Foot Washing”: “For what is the earth but a tangled bouquet / lit to its core, what am I but a conduit / of ions.” Valediction, which is the act of saying farewell, pulses with lyrical energy. This collection showcases a poet whose talents, insights, and rhythms are at their height.—Charlotte Pence, author of Code
Poet, playwright, essayist, and editor, Linda Parsons is the poetry editor for Madville Publishing and the copy editor for Chapter 16, the literary website of Humanities Tennessee. Published in such journals as The Georgia Review, Iowa Review, Prairie Schooner, Southern Poetry Review, Terrain, The Chattahoochee Review, Baltimore Review, and Shenandoah, her fifth poetry collection is Candescent (Iris Press, 2019). Five of her plays have been produced by Flying Anvil Theatre in Knoxville, Tennessee, where she lives and gardens.