Part spirit quest, part inventory of what is loved and irrevocably lost to the elements, L. I. Henley evokes the exacting gaze of the California desert in her stellar collection STARSHINE ROAD.
In L. I. Henley’s STARSHINE ROAD, a collection set in the isolated, shifting Mojave Desert terrain of Joshua Tree, California, we are witness to the underside of a rural life near the world’s largest Marine Corps base juxtaposed with hundreds of miles of national park. Traversing a land that could not be more real, but which often feels like dreamscape, these poems explore the dangers and treasures of one’s birthplace: a dog and his homeless master, an infamous Amboy creosote, a junk pile, flawed cops, grieving mothers, and their wild, muscled, unpredictable boys. The junkyard appearing in several poems becomes a microcosm for the poet’s world – glittering, mysterious, and scrappy, something to be drawn to despite its raggedness. Part spirit quest, part inventory of what is loved and irrevocably lost to the elements, Henley evokes the exacting gaze of the desert in this stellar collection.
Poetry. Nature. Family & Relationships. Women's Studies.
“L. I. Henley's stunning new book, STARSHINE ROAD, deals with coming of age in the Mojave, with nothing softened or left out, not the haunt that animates the stillness, not the junk piles, wrecked homesteads, ruined families, not the way grief is washed down through slot canyons into alluvial fans deep enough to bury a girl. These poems are willing to be homesick for the entire desert including its extra dimensions, to lean beyond human into animal mind, to be afraid, to wander naturally through fear's kingdom, through the little dangers and the large, under the dark metal of night pitted with scattershot stars.” —Marsha de la O
“Staring down unsettling aspects of her youth, L. I. Henley combs through shards of her rough terrain, while mapping her own desert gothic in this brilliant new collection of poems. She reveals "the swirling dust lit / by a pick-up's low-beams, and she knows where there are branches of juniper glowing pink / under Sam's neon sign." Armed with gutsiness and linguistic radiance, she sings about a ghostly shoe tree and for those people who have touched her life. Never forgetting she's on STARSHINE ROAD, Henley persists in finding talismans glinting with promise and possibility.” —Molly Bendall
“The clarity and ingenuity with which L. I. Henley attends her subjects in STARSHINE ROAD is instantly engaging. The details crackle. The circumstances and finely-tuned emotions envelop you. Here is an accessible poetic voice replete with acuity and grace. Her style feels like fresh air.” —Marvin Bell
Author WebsiteTravis Cravey @ Glass: A Journal of Poetry: Laura Maher @ The BindSonja Johanson @ RHINOErica Goss @ Sticks & StoneInterview @ Mojave RiverInterview with L.I. Henley @ The Poet's BillowInterview @ KVCR 91.9Interview with L.I. Henley @ "A Closer Look", Sticks & Stones
L. I. Henley was born and raised in the Mojave Desert town of Joshua Tree, California. She is the author of six books including STARSHINE ROAD (Perugia Press, 2017), her second full-length collection which won the 2017 Perugia Press Prize, the novella-in-verse, Whole Night Through (What Books Press, 2019), and the poetry and art book From the moon, as I fell (Nightjar Collective, 2020) with artist Zara Kand. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Rhino, Waxwing, Tupelo, Diode, Zone 3, Tinderbox, The American Literary Review, Thrush, Ninth Letter, and Arts & Letters. Her essay, "Drive!" was chosen by Jason Allen as the winner of the Arts & Letters/Susan Atefat Prize for Creative Nonfiction in 2020.