These poems, written on the author's daily walks over the past three years, are connected by the suggestion of the Shadow, a presence that manifests on the personal, social/political, and spiritual levels. The poems range from a child's trying to make sense of her small world, through the tumult, isolation, and grief during the Covid shutdowns, to the search for hope, joy, and connections in these dizzying times.
Debra Kaufman is the author of the poetry collections Outwalking the Shadow, God Shattered, Delicate Thefts, The Next Moment, and A Certain Light, as well as three chapbooks, many monologues and short plays, and five full-length plays. She produced her play Harbor Hope as well as Illuminated Dresses, a series of monologues by women, and she recently adapted Johnny Johnson, Paul Green's 1936 antiwar play, for the Paul Green Foundation.
Over the years, I have watched, with admiration, Debra Kaufman steadily and elegantly amass a body of work that brilliantly illuminates the daily minute-by-minute hazards and epiphanies of abiding in this capricious earth. With both eyes open, a capacious heart, and a lyric, contemplative voice, she graciously, courageously, ignites the moment, however flickering, however ephemeral—even harrowing—yet always worthy of her precise, shimmering language. The great Adrienne Rich wrote that “[s]ensual vitality is essential to the struggle for life.” Kaufman understands this aesthetic perfectly, as well as “the struggle.” Outwalking the Shadow is powerfully and unabashedly sensual, Kaufman at her unflinching absolute best: “one voice lifted / to the troubling, never-ending skies”—a tapestry of praise and righteous caution. What an immaculate, necessary, and beautiful book.Joseph Bathanti, former Poet Laureate of North Carolina and author of twelve poetry collections
Outwalking the Shadow opens with a wren’s warning song and ends with the poet apologizing to the wren: “I am sorry, sorry, so so sorry, / for what you don’t know is coming.” Still, for all the dark at its heart, this collection is radiant with the lightness of a love for this world. Debra Kaufman’s poetry is clear and emotionally compelling, a lyrical search for identity and truth through pain, loss, and the fierce beauty of nature.
Judy Goldman, author of Child: A Memoir and Losing My Sister