Deena Linett

Deena Linett

Deena Linett’s Translucent When Fired: New & Selected Poems,  forthcoming from Tiger Bark Press in Fall, 2016, adds new poems to work from three previous collections. An early poem, “The Power of Place,” which appeared in Harvard Magazine, prefigures the importance of place for Linett.

 

Fellowships to Hawthornden Castle, Scotland, led to her first two volumes of poetry, Rare Earths, composed primarily of fictive letters in the voices of Scottish island women over 250 years, and Woman Crossing a Field, in which many of the poems respond to her work in Belfast, and explorations in the Orkneys and the Western Isles of Scotland. The third poetry collection, The Gate at Visby, grew from her experiences at The Baltic Centre for Writers and Translators on Gotland, an island in the Baltic Sea off Sweden.

 

While earning her doctorate at Rutgers University, Linett had the first of two fellowships to Yaddo, where she completed her first novel, On Common Ground, co-winner of the Associated Writing Programs Award Series in the novel. The second Yaddo fellowship led to the completion of her prize-winning novel, The Translator’s Wife.

 

Born in Boston, Linett grew up on the Gulf coast of Florida. She lived for many years in northern New Jersey (where from her windows she could see New York, and the smoke when the Towers fell), and taught at Montclair State University. She lives now in Indiana.

 

 

Poems & Prose

The Natural Element

You have no choice. This is as natural as breathing.
You let down into it or are drawn. Like heartbeat
it does not care what you think. Generated
in the salty marrow of your bones, radiant
with chemistry and synapse, old as seas, desire
wells up out of mystery and all proportion,
impersonal as history but sweeter, and close
as your own smells. It surges, swells
to take the shape of its container and spilling,
offers no apologies. It is not here for you
but uses you as it moves through, like music,
as insubstantial, as absolutely real.

 


Clay Figures

Now we know the people who made us
were merely children, afraid
we would find out how little
they were sure of, and like children
grown bored with their toys,
they have gone. We are the charms
they turned from and forgot.
If there were words to keep them
they've been lost. The wind picks up.
Hills and trees that slowed it are removed.
This is what we've always known:
they'd go out after dinner and not come home,
leaving us alone like small clay dolls
on the vast plain of the world. Now the draft
before the wide dismissive sweep
that one day will wipe us all away
the way a child's hand clears off a tabletop.

 


From “Erotics of Place,” an essay, The Georgia Review:

Crossing the little strait between Gotland and Fårö, light's insubstantial coruscations moving on the deep blue, I understood I was in the presence of something that in some sense told me who I am, and at the same time changed me.

 

Great gifts do not sit around like house-cats in pools of sunlight. Nor do they repeat. It's many years since I first climbed hills in Scotland, struggled, gasping, through deep glens, strode fields ablaze with poppies, prickly wildflowers and stinging nettles, hauled myself through long slick grasses across steep fields tilted and angled and studded with pink and white and blue and yellow blooms in sunlight.

 

Glory, here on Earth.

 

(Which is handy, as I don't believe in an afterlife.)

 

On Orkney I climbed the Brough of Birsay, a tidal island so steep the path to the top is cut along a wall of earth which climbers need to lean against for balance in the wind. We lay at the edge so we wouldn't be blown into the sea by winds that scour trees to scrub, to watch currents pouring down from the Pole tossing spume and foam against the rocks, the ocean purple and blue with yellow lights, bright green around the islands. Leaving, we crossed a channel strewn with house-sized slabs of fractured heaved pink stone mindful of the tides: when the sea comes in, the stones go under the sea.

 

 

 

Publications

Poems

 

Novels

 

Selected Short Fiction

 

Selected Nonfiction

 

Images

 

Fellowships, Residencies

 

Editorial Work

 

 

Selected Readings

 

Reviews

Readers are saying —
...poems with the small, relentless power of nature

 

Molly Peacock
“The pure enjoyment of unpacking Rare Earths’ mysteries, many of which defeat resolution, is [a] tantalizing pleasure... [The poems’] dexterity and complexity glitter like gemstones cut with facets to mirror one another...” — on Rare Earths

 

Alicia Ostriker
“[T]he poet’s exquisite human grace and artistic purity successfully fuse the physical, the metaphysical, the intellectual, and the erotic landscapes — and skyscapes — of experience. Deena Linett is writing poetry like stained glass. The light of ’everything that happens, grain by grain,’ shines through it.” — on Woman Crossing a Field

 

Simon Spelling on Amazon.com
Prize-winning novelist Deena Linett’s collection of poems “Rare Earths” has made me fall in love with poetry all over again. Deliberate and delicate, Linett’s ambitious work weaves a precise and unique spell on even the casual poetry reader by creating a mysterious universe haunted by the ghosts of women, and the result is a book of poetry that can be read as a novel or as a collection of icy verse gems that sends shafts of light into the deep morass of the soul...“Rare Earths” was a semifinalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award for poetry in 2002. In a world of slam poetry and lazy words masquerading as verse, Linett’s work (call it a collection of poem, a fragmented novel or a hybrid of both) rewards the demanding reader by haunting them like the ghosts of the desolate island of St Kilda. Last word: read this immediately!

 

William Holinger:
“In The Translator’s Wife, as we delve further and further into Vida’s past, we come to realize that the unfolding [of “this amazing narrative resembles memory itself”, and] leads us back to... the very beginning, which is where this beautifully constructed novel both begins and ends.”

 

K. C. Frederick, on Amazon.com
[The Gate at Visby] is a terrific collection of poems, exhibiting great range and building... to an impressive vision. These poems convey a hunger to know, to see, to experience everything, past, present, & future, there’s a constant reach that’s jolting and exhilarating, so that in the end the reader has been momentarily loosed from the grip of gravity and taken to a place where it’s possible to glimpse the arc of life, the connectedness of everything.

 

George Messo, from his blog
Deena Linett is one of the most compelling poets I’ve read in years.

 

And from Messo’s essay in PN Review (# 207; United Kingdom )
Deena Linett’s best work gives generously and rewards repeated close readings. It is rich and complex in ways that are seldom obvious. And that in itself is a testament to her craft, to [her] unhurried precision... Linett’s prosody has the alchemical properties so necessary to her vision, animating the insensate: ...substance is the living flesh, physical and spritual, of experience, memory and transcendence.

 

Lisa Rae Cunningham, from Amazon.com
Of The Gate at Visby: Linett... is utterly aware of our common humanity, and a masterful storyteller of the gorgeous, brutal truth. This collection of poems illustrates the pitches of human nature across a universe vast beyond our reckoning. Linett intuits this depth and distance to create brilliance... At once a work of art and a time capsule, The Gate at Visbydeliverse science, history and personal discovery with the intricacy and magic of music.

 

Michael Steffen, on Amazon.com
The poems in [The Gate at Visby] are…expansive and personal, the language imaginative, heartfelt... If the words are memorable, I say they go into our collective consciousness. That’s exactly where this book is headed...

 

Judith Harris, on The Gate at Visby
[The poems yield a world that] shimmers like mirrors of legend and reality, sparkling and blazing with intensity and insistent momentum... Mature, bittersweet, sensual, Linett’s The Gate at Visby is a book of unusual ardor and poetic achievement.

 

Barnes & Noble.com
In Rare Earths, poet and novelist Deena Linett has created an intriguing and suspenseful story in verse. Mairi MacIntyre, a young archaeologist, travels to the desolate North Sea Island of St. Kilda where-in journal excerpts and letters-she comes to terms with her own repressed longings and inner life, and her ties to the women who once inhabited the island.

Deena Linett has published two prize-winning novels, On Common Ground and The Translator’s Wife. Her poetry has been widely published in literary journals including The Missouri Review, in which ten poems from Rare Earths appeared in the 20th Anniversary Issue.

 

From 100 Great American Novels You’ve (Probably) Never Read
Writing about The Translator’s Wife, Karl Bridges says “Linett’s daring approach... abandon[s] the linear flow of time... Linett’s talent for dialogue and eye for description make her literary technique work in an effective and dramatic matter [sic]. ...In quantum physics, one principle is that in any given moment, multiple possibilities exist. It is only when the actual observation of events is made that these multiple opportunities, or waves of possible futures, collapse into a fixed and immutable present. In The Translator’s Wife Linett expresses this idea in a compelling and innovative novel.”

 

 

Commonplace Book

Over the years I’ve collected words that seem to enlarge the ways I think about writing; here’s a sample. I hope you’ll enjoy reading them.

 

 

Design for a Poem or Garden

Design for a Poem or Garden

 

Contact

Deena Linett: deenalinett@gmail.com

 

Tiger Bark Press: www.tigerbarkpress.com

 

To book Deena Linett for a reading, please email: deenalinett@gmail.com

 

Credits

Author Photo by Valerie Sowers Photography

 

Website by R.Yoder Graphics