Ancient Light


Kimberly Blaeser (Author)
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Elegiac and powerful, Ancient Light uses lyric, narrative, and concrete poems to give voice to some of the most pressing ecological and social issues of our time.

With vision and resilience, Kimberly Blaeser’s poetry layers together past, present, and futures. Against a backdrop of pandemic loss and injustice, MMIW (Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women), hidden graves at Native American boarding schools, and destructive environmental practices, Blaeser’s innovative poems trace pathways of kinship, healing, and renewal. They celebrate the solace of natural spaces through sense-laden geo-poetry and picto-poems. With an Anishinaabe sensibility, her words and images invoke an ancient belonging and voice the deep relatedness she experiences in her familiar watery regions of Minnesota.

The collection invites readers to see with a new intimacy the worlds they inhabit. Blaeser brings readers to the brink, immerses them in the darkest regions of the Anthropocene, in the dangerous fallacies of capitalism, and then seeds hope. Ultimately, as the poems enact survivance, they reclaim Indigenous stories and lifeways.
“‘Loss is a sentry, a watching,’ writes Kimberly Blaeser in her latest collection of poems, Ancient Light. Emerging from the stillness and despair of a global pandemic, Blaeser’s poems are elegiac, and they are wondrous elevations of a distinctly Anishinaabe world—a homescape in which humans and their stories are in kinship with the land. Blaeser’s poems praise the legacies of ‘antler earrings’ and ‘ruby star quilt[s]’; they follow the heron’s arc of flight and the bounty of a tamarack woods. In a time most are lost, Blaeser’s poems give us small rushes of direction like ‘inky leaf shadows on snow.’”—Molly McGlennen, author of Our Bearings“

To read Blaeser’s poems is to dive into a river and emerge transformed. Anyone who is learning to look with their whole being, anyone who has overcome, beat odds, endured—will be quenched by these waters. Beauty, tenderness, wisdom. All abide here in these ‘language shapes, root-deep . . . with knowing.’”—Danusha Laméris, author of Bonfire Opera

“Blaeser takes a step into what I’ve come to understand as the field of the page in this dazzling new work. The pages become water and the poems cause wave and ripple as if crane or heron. The poems ‘swallow kinship’ and move with the earth itself. Ancient Light is more than book: it’s a map of a people thriving in a strange language or it’s a manual with the sole purpose of show us how we arrive at ‘our / sacred, / our / medicine.’ As we endure crisis after crisis in a changing world, conquest induced, this book is the light, the sun through storm clouds, another radiant and hopeful morning.”—Jake Skeets, author of Eyes Bottle Dark with a Mouthful of Flowers

Ancient Light is courageous and alive with the possibility of healing others through ceremony. Kimberly’s poems are possessed of relentless syllabic innovation, hidden histories and flowing swaths of sun on grass. ‘What is meter but another word for memory?’ If we are in fact brave enough to begin our collective healing, let us open our hearts to this collection and listen closely. The silences are as chilling as the actual language. We are in the hands of a master. Such vividness is self-selecting.”—Cedar Sigo, author of Guard the Mysteries

“Blaeser’s poems transcribe the alchemical formula for turning memory to power, and power into being. Soft, lush strokes on a landscape of want and fullness, Ancient Light uncovers home with archaeological precision and an artist’s keen eye. Kimberly Blaeser’s work is what happens when a gifted poet uses their considerable tools to carve out specific belonging in an otherwise common existence, and we are all called to dream.”—Cherie Dimaline, author of The Marrow Thieves


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