Holding Ground

Holding Ground springs from two sources–family lore about my great-grandmother’s life in the rural South and symbols found on ritual vessels of prehistoric Goddess societies. Inspiration for these poems came when my great-uncle “Hack” Chapman told me about his mother laying in potatoes, making a ‘potato hill,’ an image I recognized as primal, the pregnant female identified with the harvest and the cycle of birth and death. For the next few years, he told me more stories. From these sessions I filled a spiral notebook, more and more convinced that images once sacred are numinous, even for those who have lost touch with the soil.

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“It is the time when farming is the backbone of American life and a woman is left to run the farm and raise her children alone. There is no time for the luxury of grief when more death and disaster are waiting; there is only a mother teaching her surviving children to harvest and sow new seeds, ‘to bury the hurt, layer by layer’ in fields that will one day also claim their bodies. . . . . The woman becomes a metaphor for her hard-won land:  ‘She’s her own field,/ never fallow/ for long.’

She never imagined that all the hurt buried in her fields would take root, that one of her great-grandchildren would record in verse what Virginia Woolf defined as ‘the accumulation of unrecorded life.'”

—Leilani Wright, Contest Judge

“Gibson’s lush imagery carries these poems about mundane farm-life to an ethereal level. Whether her subject is boiling molasses or killing hogs, her language shines with a visceral force.”

—Kathryn Parker Milam

 

Cover art:  “singing green,”  a pencil drawing by William Gould, Jr.

 

Laying Out the Dead
Putting Up Damson Preserves

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