Poetry. Women's Studies. Art. Finalist for the 2020 Big Other Book Award for Poetry. HALF-LIFE OF EMPATHY interrogates the complex human/non-human relationship in the Anthropocene. Rooted in the author's deep fascination and scientific knowledge of ecology, these poems take literal experiences and explore/distort them with language. Moving away from the traditional nature poem, this work enacts an ecology where a human speaker is decentered and earth regains agency.
"What a beautiful use of the words of water and geology and all things living. Durham writes a new ecological poetry, resonant, rich, and also very aware of what it means to be writing when this never-ending industrial revolution is putting all at risk."—Juliana Spahr
"Rebecca A. Durham's debut collection HALF-LIFE OF EMPATHY builds its lyricism with 'ears [that] make an I,' asking 'What does the sky call you?' The natural world—through Durham's poems—calls on the reader to engage with lush tones, rhythms and senses that are part of Durham's exquisite botanist world-sense. Each poem deepens its quest with analysis and provocation. With lines holding forth as we move into Durham's dream life 'All night I dream I hold clouds. With every movement I sense the edges. I'm water, diving towards the center while my body streams out, encircling.' I'm in deep admiration of how these poems invite, encircle, and imagine. A gorgeous and thought-provoking collection of poems."—Prageeta Sharma
Rebecca A. Durham is a poet, botanist, and artist. Originally from the Connecticut River Valley of New England, she also calls Montana home. She holds a BA in Biology from Colby College, a MS in Botany from Oregon State University, and an MFA in Creative Writing (Poetry) from the University of Montana. Nominated for a Pushcart Prize, Rebecca's writing has been featured in national and international journals, literary magazines, and anthologies. As a botanist she has worked across the west exploring ecosystems. She lives with her daughter in Missoula, MT.Author City: MISSOULA, MT USA