Poetry On the Edge

Alaska native Caroline Goodwin’s first poetry book, Trapline (Jackleg Press), is set at the edge–of the sea, the swamp, the wilderness. To get a feel for her poetry, imagine yourself walking along the shore, encountering “rot and salt,” dragonflies, gnats, the quahog and cockle. Then imagine focusing in on each treasure, closer and closer until you see a wing or an eye and then inside the organism. Once you’re amongst the blood vessels with your magical microscope, Goodwin will connect what you see to the human you through a hand, a thigh, a boot. What you discover will be big and beautiful and brutal.

The first poem offers an invitation to the reader: “come to the end of the wharf / when the last of the tide releases / the harbor with its trollers / and rigging _ _ its lampshells / and speckled anemone _ _  come / after work when the mind / / has grown plumes.” [The double underscore represents a larger space in the line. Since WordPress isn’t friendly to poetry, I had to make do.]

You will want to take Goodwin up on this invitation.  You can click on the book above to order from Amazon. I didn’t get a free book for recommending Goodwin’s poetry; I simply bought her book and fell in love with the poems.

Here is a sample poem for your enjoyment:


I can see how the termites

draw themselves through

the opening now

to rise out of the hive

in a flickering stream

every leg full of

sun every abdomen a

jewel and I let myself

think about the un-

born and the almost

born — eggs packed

in brittle shells

in husks

in the wings


my husband

scraping at the crumpled


his song a thin leg

. . . . . . . . . at the edge of the yard

[I had to add the ellipses to indicate a long space.]


Filed under Book Review, Essay, Nonfiction, Poetry

13 responses to “Poetry On the Edge

  1. This book sounds great —> poetry zooming in on zoology and leaping to humans.

  2. Chris Graham at The Story Reading Ape referred referred this poem to me because I write stories about extraterrestrial giant intelligent termites! The poem is very nice – I enjoyed this vision of an emergence of alates!

    • Luanne

      Lorinda, I’m so happy you came to check it out! I had to laugh to hear about the extraterrestrial giant intelligent termites because it was so unexpected! Are these termites of yours kind to humans or is there animosity?

  3. I’ll check this out, I love her play with words!

  4. Thank you. Looks like my kind of poetry.

  5. Sounds so deeply observed and felt…
    I was interested in your comments about wordpress and poetry – I’d thought it was me being hopelessly unhandy… !!

    • Luanne

      Caroline Goodwin’s poetry is very deeply observed and felt.
      It’s not you. It’s WordPress. They give a few ways of trying to get around the problem, but none of them work. The only thing that works for me truly is to scan a poem and then post it as an image.

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