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To Embroider the Ground with Prayer

To Embroider the Ground with Prayer is a portrait of poet Teresa J. Scollon’s several worlds, as she accompanies her father through his illness and death and records the richness of family and community life in her Michigan town.

“These poems abound in humor, heartbreak, and intellect. This is a first collection to justly rejoice in. Scollon’s variety of tones, her verbal textures, and the atmosphere of her landscapes are like Turner’s watercolors; they bleed and they transfix. Her subject matter—fundamental moments that embody the beauty, absurdity, and anguish of our human existence—puts me in mind of Thomas Hardy in its heartfelt intensity. Never a touch overinflated, or faint or merely equitable, Scollon’s metaphors hit the mark with a precise ping of recognition, and in poem after poem—out of the authenticity of her speaking and the caliber of her craft—the rhapsodic arrives.” Gray Jacobik

Teresa Scollon’s poems speak to the mysteries of our coming and going on Earth and our always-fraught abiding. She has a marvelous ear for the poetry of what seems at first humdrum—the wry pleasantries of the Midwest and the feeling lodged in the enormous land. The poignancy of the poems is always genuine, resting as it does on the fulcrum of tenderness and the mortal awareness of life’s on-goingness. The strength in her language is mirrored in the strength of the narrative and moments she so deftly relates.” Baron Wormser

“The poems in To Embroider the Ground with Prayer, with their focus on a Midwestern farming community, will remind you of the long American literary tradition that takes small-town life as its subject. There are comic portraits and unsettling revelations. But all together the poems give off such warmth and light—the light of clarity, the warmth of affection—that at times you will forget that you are reading a book of grief. Teresa Scollon’s is a welcome new voice in our poetry." Mark Jarman

“I love this book and the world it creates. Teresa Scollon has the storyteller’s sensibility of E.A. Robinson. She also has a particular brand of restraint that opens her poems into mystery in a way that leaves me either breathless or laughing. She ends the poem “Catechism” with: ‘Let mystery / be mystery; let all the explanations be ridiculous; / let us be together in the distance between.’ Scollon’s voice is clear, solid, rich, and funny. There’s no poetizing, no sloppiness, nothing that isn’t true and nothing that isn’t poem.” Fleda Brown

“In To Embroider the Ground with Prayer Teresa Scollon explores the landscapes of Michigan with grace and the pure attention to language that makes poetry a kind of prayer. From quirky rural humor to deeply personal questions, Teresa gets it right, sometimes narrating the story, sometimes offering up tender elegy, sometimes letting the village speak in spot-on personas. Here are poems that feed the spirit and break the heart with their green grass beauty and blue sky clarity.” Anne-Marie Oomen