Crater & Tower

Duck Lake Books presents

Crater & Tower

poetry by

Cheryl J. Fish

Book Release Date
May 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-943900-43-5

includes taxes and shipping

copies will arrive on or before the “Book Release Date”

In May, 1980, Mt. St. Helens erupted, releasing volcanic ash that reached from the Washington coast to Minnesota. Forty years later, in May, 2020, Duck Lake Books will release Crater & Tower by Cheryl J. Fish. This is a poetic response to the deadliest volcano in US History and the 911 attack on the Twin Towers, the deadliest terrorist attack in US history. These historic tragedies forever haunt the collective American consciousness, and this book will forever grace the collective American soul.

Just as I received the manuscript of Crater & Tower, I was reading reviews of a new Black Mountain Poetry anthology.  Cheryl J. Fish’s “black mountains" include Mount St. Helens (aka Smoky Mountain to the Indians of the region) and the human-made Twin Towers in the “canyons” of Manhattan. Using some of Charles Olson’s key dictums—personal research, personal experience, Fish manages to weave in everything from Yeti to Dixie Lee Ray to Trump-loving dates from Hell. These are poems that report from the ground and not from the surface of a TV screen. Fish articulates a sharp ecological and political stance, along with a personal vulnerability rarely seen in conjunction with those stances. A terrific read and something that may very well have staying power in a society, where, as the author reminds us “it’s always shark week.”

Cheryl J. Fish’s Crater & Tower is a work of inspired research and engaged imagination. Fish creates a “multi-verse,” her work spanning natural and human-made disasters, the eruption of Mount St. Helens and the collapse of the Twin Towers on September 11, 2001. She advises, “Listen better. Listen more.” Crater & Tower is a compelling testament to the vital act of listening as Fish attests to both devastation and renewal. “What you can’t fathom finds you,” she warns. She excavates personal, political, and ecological circumstances to enrich our perspectives and fathom new meaning.

Eco-poetry, much like contemporary eco-art, attempts not to dominate and explicate but rather to draw attention. Cheryl J. Fish has done this in her collection Crater & Tower, the heart of which is an exploration of Mount St. Helens thirty years after the eruption, juxtaposed with the 2001 attack on the Twin Towers in Fish's hometown, NYC. With a light investigative touch, the poet follows not just events of terrain but also of interior worlds, imagination, and the ephemeral. She asks: where are we? /who are they? And then: do images disappear? The answer is no—not if they are contained here.
Miriam Sagan

Cheryl J. Fish is a poet of the event. In Crater & Tower, she centers on the eruption of Mount St. Helens and 9-11, two catastrophes so explosive they nearly defy language. But this challenge itself becomes her muse – invigorating her writing, or as Fish puts it, “If there’s loss take to the real.” Adding to her personal witness, she imagines these events from the perspectives of both historical and contemporary figures. Doing so, she accords these disasters the reverence they deserve, but also registers the powerful resilience they evoke. It’s an attitude she carries into even quiet moments in the book. The poems in this moving collection encourage us to keep going.
Elaine Equi


Cheryl J. Fish is an environmental justice scholar, fiction writer and poet. Her short stories have appeared in Iron Horse Literary Review, From Somewhere to Nowhere: The End of the American Dream, (Autonomedia Press, 2017), CheapPopLit, and Liars League NYC. Her short story “Never Buy Dope in Washington Square,” from the innovative lit mag Between C&D was featured in an exhibit from the Fales Library, New York University. She is the author of the poetry chapbook Make It Funny, Make it Last (#171, Belladonna). Her poems have appeared in The Bloomsbury Anthology of Contemporary Jewish American Poetry; Hanging Loose;; New American Writing; Talisman; Santa Monica Review; Kudzu House Review; Reed Magazine; Volt; (B)oink; Folded Word, Maintenant, Postcard Poems, The Gyroscope Review. Fish has been Fulbright professor in Finland, writer-in-residence at Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument, and she is professor of English at Borough of Manhattan Community College, City University of New York.

revised January 8, 2020
© 2020 Duck Lake Books

No comments:

Post a Comment