- Written by: Ed Southern
- Category: Book Buzz
Look at This Blue by Allison Adelle Hedge Coke
Coffee House Press
Available from Coffee House Press
INTERWEAVING ELEGY, INDICTMENT, AND HOPE INTO A LOVE LETTER TO CALIFORNIA, LOOK AT THIS BLUE EXAMINES AMERICA’S GENOCIDAL PAST AND PRESENT TO WARN OF A FUTURE THREATENED BY MASS EXTINCTION AND CLIMATE PERIL. Truths about what we have lost and have yet to lose permeate this book-length poem by American Book Award winner and Fulbright scholar Allison Adelle Hedge Coke. An assemblage of historical record and lyric fragments, these poems form a taxonomy of threatened lives—human, plant, and animal—in a century marked by climate emergency. Look at This Blue insists upon a reckoning with and redress of America’s continuing violence toward Earth and its peoples, as Hedge Coke’s cataloguing of loss crescendos into resistance.
“Here is a lifetime, relentless, inviting us bravely to sit in a circle facing the fire, speaking. Allison’s new collection covers her poetic depth and practice: travels, research, vision and visions, her wide wingspan—saving the people, the planet, and creatures. It is timely as all her books have been through the decades. Yet, the approach is radical, experimental. She meditates and dances through the trails of the text. Love and suffering, document and lyrical flight, human core and cosmic interrelationship, woman’s body and explosive mind. A prizewinner all the way. A warm, true heart.” —Juan Felipe Herrera
“Song from both above and within a texture of bad change, imbued with beauty, being in and of nature. This language, these careful lines, implicates us all as bits of process of extinction, violent—humans, together with the Xerces blue butterfly and California’s so many other spectacular species, lovingly named. Voices, vegetation, animals, human recall and event, like scratchings or petroglyphs. Who’s speaking? The record. A gorgeous, scary poem.” —Alice Notley
“Allison Adelle Hedge Coke is one of the most important and innovative environmental writers of our time. Look at This Blue urgently asks us to see the wondrous biodiversity of the planet amidst the violent ravages of colonialism, capitalism, and ecological imperialism. Throughout, this cyclical poem sows dreams of a ‘bettering world’ where our relationships with the earth and more-than-human species are replenished through justice, protection, and love.” —Craig Santos Perez
Allison Adelle Hedge Coke, a Fulbright scholar, First Jade Nurtured SiHui Female International Poetry Award recipient, recent Dan and Maggie Inouye Distinguished Chair in Democratic Ideals, and U.S. Library of Congress Witter Bynner fellow, has written seven books of poetry, one book of nonfiction, and a play. Following former fieldworker retraining in the mid-1980s, she began teaching, and she is now a distinguished professor of creative writing at the University of California, Riverside. Hedge Coke is the editor of ten anthologies and has served as an editor and guest editor for several magazines and journals, most recently World Literature Today. The social media hashtag #poempromptsforthepandemic hosts hundreds of original prompts she crafted as public outreach during the COVID-19 pandemic. A career community advocate and organizer, she most recently directed UCR’s Writers Week, the Along the Chaparral/Pūowaina project, and the Sandhill Crane Migration Retreat and Festival.