In spare, lyrical fragments, PSALMBOOK channels the Book of Psalms as an act of radical listening, “a spirituality of attention” (Cole Swensen).
In PSALMBOOK, Laura Walker re-inhabits the Book of Psalms, King James Version, to channel the voice she finds there. Composed of lyrical fragments, these psalms plumb desire, faith, and loss, a land of hum and sponge where the necessity of belief and the impossibility of belief hunt and sway. i remember you, the psalmist sings; once/ you walked in this land, and made soft thrumming sounds// once you were outlined in paper.
“In her luminous new collection PSALMBOOK, Laura Walker animates the mystery of existence by returning poetry to its ancient source of prayer. Conversing with the old psalms, freed from religious tradition, she restores our primal intimacy with the universe and the inscrutable other, here addressed as ‘you.’ Everything named is born out of deep silence—from ‘a braided moon’ to ‘a cold truck’ and ‘tidal blanket’—as though Walker conjured it from the beginning of time, which she has. PSALMBOOK is a work of extraordinary vision, reimagining from early invocations, a new more integrated way of being.” —Denise Newman
“Making fragile, glancing connections to their biblical counterparts (has ‘sheep of his pastures’ become her ‘shaggy choirs’?), these spare evocations suggest a spirituality rooted more deeply in actual lived experience than their often-hyperbolic predecessors. It's a spirituality of attention, in which the praise, the passion, and the pleading are all still here, but with ambiguous foci that let them apply suggestively, now to one thing, now to another, making them psalms that bridge the supposedly sacred and supposedly secular, letting each illuminate the other through wonderfully bright, awakening phrasing.” —Cole Swensen
“Laura Walker’s PSALMBOOK compels the reader to ask what a psalm is: lament? praise? Here, the psalm is rendered as a plaintive fragment of human consciousness. These are the songs of our indeterminate time: the past lies just out of reach from the present, even as it barrels into an ominous future. Spare and eerie, these poems overhear—spy upon—presences we typically ignore. i know you hear me, the psalmist sings:
there is no net
you did not make, nets
said and unsaid...
We hear it. We unravel at the song. We read these poems and something breaks in us, ripe and unrepentant.” —Elizabeth Robinson
Poetry. Women’s Studies.
Author WebsiteReview by Valerie Witte @ Fugue JournalFeatured Poem @ Poetry DailyValerie Witt @ fugue journal
Laura Walker is the author of STORY (Apogee Press, 2016), FOLLOW-HASWED (Apogee Press, 2012), BIRDBOOK (Shearsman Books, 2011), rimertown/ an atlas (UC Press, 2008), and swarm lure (Battery Press, 2004), and the chapbook bird book (Albion Books, 2010). She grew up in North Carolina and now lives in Berkeley, California, where she teaches poetry.