The Bucknell Series in Contemporary Poetry
The sediment, or alluvium, deposited in a riverbed perpetually shifts and settles in response to water's flux; in turn, its submerged contours shape the watercourse, creating shallows and rapids, treacherous holes and long placid runs, sculpting the restless shoreline.
Set in the watery landscapes of the Chesapeake Bay (the world's largest estuary) and in Louisiana (land of braided tributaries), Katherine Soniat's Alluvial charts the course of individual and collective histories influenced by the rich alluvium of culture and geography, ecology and autobiography. Lives large and small, recorded and unrecorded-those of Captain John Smith, Frederick Douglass, a community of Ursuline nuns, a home full of exiled children of tubercular parents, the poet's mother, nameless others-merge into the past's archetypal sediment, only to rise again in these beautiful poems to dance in memory's drift and to filter a future always infused with the past.
"Soniat's collection is filled with richly kaleidoscopic images of the past, reconstructions of her own childhood, and fluctuating relationships with family and the world...She is a voice that brings together many skeins of America's heritage, and a poet who, like Whitman, can sing, in her own voice, of a teeming nation of nations."
McCay, Mary A. "Rivers Run Through It." The Times-Picayune 2001.
About the author:
Katherine Soniat's third collection, A Shared Life, won the Iowa Poetry Prize, and also a Virginia Prize for Poetry. Notes of Departure was awarded the Camden Poetry Prize from the Walt Whitman Center for the Arts and Humanities. She is a recipient of Virginia Commission for the Arts Fellowships, the William Faulkner Prize, and an Ann Stanford Prize. Her poems have appeared in such literary journals as The Nation, The New Republic, Southern Review, Virginia Quarterly, Gettysburg Review[i/] and TriQuarterly. An associate professor of English at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, she lives in Blacksburg, Virginia.