Practicing the Truth by Ellery Akers

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Practicing the Truth (Autumn House Press)

Winner of the 2014 Autumn House Poetry Prize, judged by Alicia Ostriker
Winner of the 2015 San Francisco Book Festival Poetry Award
Winner of the 2015 Independent Publisher Book Award, Silver Medal in Poetry
Nominated for a 2016 Northern California Book Award

“I was astounded and carried away over and over by the poems in Ellery Akers’ second collection.......Readers will be hard-pressed to find another poet who speaks so honestly and clear-eyed about the anger, grief and joy of this life.”

— James Crews, Basalt

“....spare, moving, and gorgeous.......When Akers writes of her connection to the natural world, we are reminded of Emily Dickinson's precise yet off-kilter images, and reading Akers, like reading Dickinson, is an awakening.”

— Maggie Trapp, Daily Dose of Lit, Extract(s)

“....These stunning poems are a rare combination of confessional poetry and poetry that celebrates the natural world. Reading these poems, one has the feeling that Sylvia Plath and Mary Oliver could have collaborated on this text.....She is fearless as she confronts her own past and peerless as she invites us to regard the healing beauty of the natural world. The almost ecstatic resilience of Akers as a poet and naturalist reverberates in every line of this fine and impressive book....”

— Sonja James, The Journal

Practicing the Truth is a book of gorgeous knowledge and unlikely couplings. A scientist’s precision marries a painter’s eye marries a Whitmanesque inhabitance of all being—insects, leaves, rocks, weathers, the narratives of many lives, her own not taking precedence over others. These honed, faceted, closely observed poems are no ordinary lyrics—they spring open the hidden wildness of both language and compassion.”

— Jane Hirshfield, Ploughshares

“With the passion and determination of an abuse survivor, the exploring mind of a naturalist, and the soul energy of a language-loving poet, Akers give us not one truth but layer on layer of overlapping truths....”

— Alicia Ostriker

“I've loved Ellery Akers' poems for a long time, and so am heartened to see this book of carefully wrought considerations about the ways we work at living, enduring, surviving, and finding ways to thrive. Akers struggles to bind the natural with unnatural, to understand how we are products of the universe, its explosive and violent energy as well as its silence and vastness....Practicing the Truth is one of those rare books one can't stop reading. It's that good, that compelling.”

— Dorianne Laux

“'Practicing the Truth' [title poem]: A compressed, charged family history, made vivid and convincing by its eloquence about the body, about the need for the mind to make restitution to the past.”

— Eavan Boland

“…Akers makes compelling poems by unfolding, line by line, a secret knowledge. She finds a tipping point in each stanza which becomes emotionally acute; then she holds that line with authority. The result is clarity of purpose, a promise met. We feel someone's in charge, and Akers makes every poem a shared interest with the reader… I can't say strongly enough how story becomes an art form in this book. Ellery Akers has the golden gift, with good profit to literature.”

Grace Cavalieri, The Washington Independent Review of Books