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Book Title

Is, Is Not

Author 1
Tess Gallagher
Poem Excerpt
Three stars
looked down on me
with so much dark
between, the word
“together” would be
trespass, except for
the greater dark
that gave their light
an intimacy of
multitudes.  And if
I shut my eyes I was
a memory of
multitudes until
I opened that dark on
just those three
the instant before
they took me
in.  And though
I tell you this
we are unspoken.
—“Three Stars”
Is, Is Not upends our notions of linear time, evokes the spirit and sanctity of place, and journeys toward discovering the full capacity of language. Gallagher’s poems reverberate with the inward clarity of a bell struck on a mountaintop and hover daringly at the threshold of what language can nearly deliver while offering alternative corollaries as gifts of its failures. Guided by humor, grace, and a deep inquiry into the natural world, every poem nudges us toward moments of awe. How else except by delight and velocity would we discover the miracle within the ordinary?

Gallagher claims many Wests—the Northwest of America, the Northwest of Ireland, and a West even further to the edge, beyond the physical. These landscapes are charged with invisible energies and inhabited by the people, living and dead, who shape Gallagher’s poems and life. Restorative in every sense, Is, Is Not is the kind of book that takes a lifetime to write—a book of the spirit made manifest by the poet’s unrelenting gaze and her intimate engagement with the mysteries that keep us reaching.

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Tess Gallagher’s new poems are suspended between contradiction and beauty

About the Author

Tess  Gallagher
Credit: Morella Muñoz-Tebar
Tess Gallagher is the author of eleven books of poetry, including Is, Is Not; Midnight Lantern: New and Selected Poems; Dear Ghosts; and Moon Crossing Bridge. Gallagher spends time in county Sligo, Ireland, and also in her hometown of Port Angeles, Washington.
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  • “Each poem, fully realized, builds toward a collection that is luminous and far ranging– both in substance and in form.”Oregonian
  • Is, Is Not is a thorough and unapologetic exploration of the self. Gallagher’s poems, like the shattered reflection of the moon in the ever-changing flowing water of the world, reveal various parts of that self—sometimes coherent, sometimes ambiguous and evasive—as it is transformed by experience.”Harvard Review
  • “While impressively wide-ranging in its intellectual inquiry, . . . Gallagher’s craft excels as she balances image and abstraction, grounding the wild flights of the speaker’s philosophical imagination.”—Publishers Weekly, starred review
  • "Tess Gallagher is in top form with this collection of challenging but intellectually rewarding poems."—Shelf Awareness
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