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Philomath: Poems

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Selected by Sally Keith as a winner of the 2020 National Poetry Series, this debut collection is a ruminative catalogue of overgrowth and the places that haunt us. With Devon Walker-Figueroa as our Virgil, we begin in the collection's eponymous town of Philomath, Oregon. We drift through the general store, into the Nazarene Church, past people plucking at the brambles of a Selected by Sally Keith as a winner of the 2020 National Poetry Series, this debut collection is a ruminative catalogue of overgrowth and the places that haunt us. With Devon Walker-Figueroa as our Virgil, we begin in the collection's eponymous town of Philomath, Oregon. We drift through the general store, into the Nazarene Church, past people plucking at the brambles of a place that won't let them go. We move beyond the town into fields and farmland--and further still, along highways, into a cursed Californian town, a museum in Florence. We wander with a kind of animal logic, like a beast with "a mindto get loose / from a valley fallowing / towards foul," through the tense, overlapping space between movement and stillness. An explorer at the edge of the sublime, Walker-Figueroa writes in quiet awe of nature, of memory, and of a beauty that is "merelyexistence carrying on and carrying on." In her wanderings, she guides readers toward a kind of witness that doesn't flinch from the bleak or bizarre: A vineyard engulfed in flames is reclaimed by the fields. A sow smothers its young, then bears more. A neighbor chews locusts in his yard. For in Philomath, it is the poet's (sometimes reluctant) obligation "to keep an eye / on what is left" of the people and places that have impacted us. And there is always something left, whether it is the smell of burnt grapes, a twelfth-century bronze, or even a lock of hair.


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Selected by Sally Keith as a winner of the 2020 National Poetry Series, this debut collection is a ruminative catalogue of overgrowth and the places that haunt us. With Devon Walker-Figueroa as our Virgil, we begin in the collection's eponymous town of Philomath, Oregon. We drift through the general store, into the Nazarene Church, past people plucking at the brambles of a Selected by Sally Keith as a winner of the 2020 National Poetry Series, this debut collection is a ruminative catalogue of overgrowth and the places that haunt us. With Devon Walker-Figueroa as our Virgil, we begin in the collection's eponymous town of Philomath, Oregon. We drift through the general store, into the Nazarene Church, past people plucking at the brambles of a place that won't let them go. We move beyond the town into fields and farmland--and further still, along highways, into a cursed Californian town, a museum in Florence. We wander with a kind of animal logic, like a beast with "a mindto get loose / from a valley fallowing / towards foul," through the tense, overlapping space between movement and stillness. An explorer at the edge of the sublime, Walker-Figueroa writes in quiet awe of nature, of memory, and of a beauty that is "merelyexistence carrying on and carrying on." In her wanderings, she guides readers toward a kind of witness that doesn't flinch from the bleak or bizarre: A vineyard engulfed in flames is reclaimed by the fields. A sow smothers its young, then bears more. A neighbor chews locusts in his yard. For in Philomath, it is the poet's (sometimes reluctant) obligation "to keep an eye / on what is left" of the people and places that have impacted us. And there is always something left, whether it is the smell of burnt grapes, a twelfth-century bronze, or even a lock of hair.

48 review for Philomath: Poems

  1. 4 out of 5

    David

    I’m impressed by this debut collection from Devon Walker-Figureroa. Philomath is poignantly autobiographical, tracing her early life in remote Kings Valley, Oregon. The poems capture the violence that lurks beneath the surface of rural life with hope and hopelessness precariously balanced. Several themes and motifs recur throughout the volume, giving this the coherence of a single work rather than a collection of individual pieces.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Kevin

    A rural coming of age turned poetic. Though quiet, the turbulence of these lines is felt like an ache.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Amie Whittemore

    Well, shit. This is just a very impressive debut. The poems are finely, finely wrought, balancing music and narrative deftly. The formal choices are playful in a very serious way--that is to say, the formal choices feel entirely thoroughly intentional while also experimental, pushing toward--something. There's a hunger in this book, though it is unstated, though it's just a feeling I have, for more poems,f or more examination of what a poem could be (though the author is enrolled in a fiction MF Well, shit. This is just a very impressive debut. The poems are finely, finely wrought, balancing music and narrative deftly. The formal choices are playful in a very serious way--that is to say, the formal choices feel entirely thoroughly intentional while also experimental, pushing toward--something. There's a hunger in this book, though it is unstated, though it's just a feeling I have, for more poems,f or more examination of what a poem could be (though the author is enrolled in a fiction MFA so you know I could be wrong). Perhaps what I am feeling is just that these are the surface of a deep talent with more to say, the first water glinting; so much more to bubble up from the depths.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Leah

    Loved this book. Devon really transports her reader to this other place and takes us on an intimate journey. Beautiful and heartbreaking

  5. 5 out of 5

    Vera

    4.25 stars. I love Philomath. I like this poetry. It's different and something else. 4.25 stars. I love Philomath. I like this poetry. It's different and something else.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Kevin

  7. 4 out of 5

    Catherine Pond

  8. 5 out of 5

    Chelsea Hill

  9. 4 out of 5

    L. A.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Camille Ferguson

  11. 4 out of 5

    Jordan

  12. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca

  13. 5 out of 5

    Selena

  14. 4 out of 5

    Sally

  15. 5 out of 5

    Cheryl

  16. 4 out of 5

    Crystal

  17. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

  18. 5 out of 5

    Laura Vogt

  19. 4 out of 5

    Zoe Kennard

  20. 5 out of 5

    Nora

  21. 4 out of 5

    Taylor Stewart

  22. 4 out of 5

    Natalie Claire

  23. 4 out of 5

    Christian Sammartino

  24. 4 out of 5

    Lyd Havens

  25. 5 out of 5

    SJ

  26. 4 out of 5

    rosalind

  27. 4 out of 5

    Nicholas Marinelli

  28. 4 out of 5

    Noah Leventhal

  29. 4 out of 5

    Abby

  30. 5 out of 5

    Jocelyn

  31. 5 out of 5

    Michelle

  32. 5 out of 5

    Caroline

  33. 4 out of 5

    Paulina Freedman

  34. 5 out of 5

    Sarabeth Weszely

  35. 5 out of 5

    Hannah

  36. 5 out of 5

    Aubrey Nekvinda

  37. 5 out of 5

    Rubrum Cato

  38. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca

  39. 4 out of 5

    Ester

  40. 4 out of 5

    Teresa Miller

  41. 5 out of 5

    Esmée

  42. 5 out of 5

    Rachel

  43. 5 out of 5

    Bibliophile10

  44. 4 out of 5

    Brendan

  45. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer Fronek

  46. 4 out of 5

    Andrew

  47. 4 out of 5

    Mia

  48. 4 out of 5

    Victoria

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