New Issues Poetry & Prose - WMU
TitlesSubmission GuidelinesOrderingDonateAbout Us

Joseph Featherstone

Joseph Featherstone

Joseph Featherstone was born in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, and grew up in Japan. He lives in Gloucester, Massachusetts, and East Lansing, Michigan. He has taught at Harvard and Brown Universities, served as Principal of the Commonwealth School in Boston, and was for years editor of the New Republic. His poems and articles have appeared in such publications as The Nation, The Atlantic Monthly, The New York Times, Green Mountains Review, Ploughshares, Many Mountains Moving, and The Burning Tree.

 

Brace's Cove

Brace's CoveBrace's Cove

$14.00 paper | 73 Pages
ISBN: 978-0-932826-94-7
Publication Date: Oct. 2000
Buy: Amazon.com

The poems of Brace's Cove consider the seemingly random connections between the cosmos and our daily lives. As Featherstone see it, "we are as close to heaven / as it gets," and even "the Milky Way pouring down" is reflected in smaller ways so that we may witness its routine: "Waterlilies, filling with rain, / tipping, filling again." The greater foretells its microcosms, much as waves report momentum for a larger body when they break against a cove then ebb again to open water. The poet recognizes the wearing-down such a process brings, but sees this erosion as necessity rather than diminishment, a recognition that even the sun seems to uphold: "Such radiance – / rinsing the broken world clean." Featherstone's poems work a similar magic, casting their considerable light on the small moment or particular to reveal the vastness that informs it.

"Memory echoes through Joseph Featherstone's poems like a wind, sometimes gentle, sometimes wild. He stands in it bravely and with our illusion, making this wry, witty un-selfpitying, utterly candid music while time and death threaten to take it all away. For all their defiance and the frequent harshness of their circumstances, these poems manage a sweetness and grace that I find as moving as they are rare."
         ––Rosellen Brown

"Brace's Cove is a remarkably beautiful first book of poems. These poems are unembellished, permeable, musically sweet, riddled with necessity. Featherstone is urgent and authentic and wild with clarity; he has the gift of truth."
         ––Lucie Brock-Broido

"In Featherstone's world one finds an unusual blend of deep sensibility with a reliable strength. Anyone who cares for poetry will be rewarded by going straight out and acquiring this book"
         ––Josephine Jacobsen

Poem

Dragonflies

My cousin said they could sew
children's mouths with blue needles.

Some kids called them snake doctors, with power
to raise a dead copperhead to life

or write your name on their air. As my secrets grew,
I became better instructed concerning dragons

and the bright colors of their wheels. In Japan,
a woman taught me they were friendly,

killing pests, appeasing ghosts. When she lost
her child to firebombs, the sharp-eyed skimmers

drew her to water salted with stars.
Above the shut faces of wars and pond lilies,

we prayed for the baby and ate our rice.
We saw the nymph's skin split from a force inside,

a fresh thing hardening, full of new shadow,
like cooling glass. I came as close

to them one other time.
Therefore I never ask for too much

for the double-winged doctors––
a mouth ripped open, new words

for smoke, for sorrow.