Poetry. Author Judith Kunst's writing has been compared to the playground game of tetherball: words and ideas fling out to the outer edges of the known yet also stay anchored in the real. Poems in THE WAY THROUGH take readers forward and backward in time; across geographies; across and around the works of Walt Whitman, Anselm Kiefer, Joseph Stroud, Simone Weil and others; and into the voiced perspectives of ink, paper, children, and a multitude of strangers and friends—all with a steadiness of purpose and a clarity of vision we can trust. A first collection published later in life, THE WAY THROUGH earns its experiments with form and its honed assertions about marriage, parenthood, friendship, suffering, art, faith, and more. The book sets up house in the borderlands between the concrete and the ineffable, the given life and the longed-for release or arrival, and that house is a comfortable one: well appointed, sturdy in turbulent weather, and always open for guests. "Touch your life," Kunst urges, "And come away from nothing you have touched / unchanged." Such change in these poems may be as small as two curved marks added to the word "(In) Sufficient" or as big as a paralyzed friend's decision to laugh again, but with every poem Kunst tests and affirms Weil's declaration that "This world is a closed door, and at the same time it is the way through."
"The poems in the book have been written one by one over many years and in very different times of life. About four years ago I began to dream about collecting them into a book that would be a cohesive experience for you, the reader. After a prologue poem celebrating a tenth year of marriage, Part One of the book jumps back in time to celebrate one marvelous, difficult summer I lived in New York City and tried to make it my home. Part Two celebrates the life I found beyond New York, in marriage and children and the Midwest. And Part Three contemplates the mysteries of suffering and joyful surprise that come even when we think life is settled and complete. The title, THE WAY THROUGH, makes me smile. For one thing, the words are a quotation, not an original phrase, as you'll see if you read the book—which to me means no poem or book or life is achieved on one's own. For another thing, the title reminds me of a powerful lie: that there is one way, and if you step off it, or can't find it, you are doomed. The beauty and the puzzle of poetry helped rescue me from that delusion, as did the many voices and places that fill the pages of the book. I am so grateful to Mayapple Press and my editor Judith Kerman, for 'getting' this project, and for putting it into your hands this summer."—Judith Kunst, Author Note
"Reading this book felt like a long sideways fall through microclimates of dreaming and waking. The poems themselves are sharp, finely wrought, and as deftly humorous as they are soulful, grounded in the ordinary strangeness of Kunst's daily experience. Kunst meditates not only on local geographies—New York and the Midwest; meetings, partings, and solitary meanderings—but on the writing and reading life. She makes this kind of penetrating perception look easy, but we know that it's like the heat and labor required to create a plate of glass: '...almost / wholly inspired by what's / come after: the power / to see through walls.'"—Claire Bateman
"Having kept Judith Kunst on my poetry radar for many years, I have been watching for the appearance of this first collection of poetry. These are the poems of a lover of the word and of the worlds those words bring into being. These profoundly canny and generative lines actually perform the poetic operation of words; in so doing, they also invite the reader to make new meaning with them. Good journey!"—Scott Cairns
"With compassion, awe, and marvelous wit, Judith Kunst invites us to explore a woman's life journey through singleness, marriage, and family in a lovely genesis of fruitfulness. Kunst's meditations offer an enlightening series of 'readings' rendered through a lyric intelligence, one informed by an ekphrastic eye and pen, a philosopher's sagacity and a poet's wise heart. The poems in THE WAY THROUGH blush with distinctive beauty, wonder, and unwavering belief, all held fast in a divine embrace."—Karen An-hwei Lee
Poems by Judith Kunst have appeared in Poetry, December, Image, Able Muse, Measure, Southern Poetry Review, Saint Katherine Review, In Posse, and, as Judith McCune, in The Atlantic. Paraclete Press published her first book The Burning Word: A Christian Encounter with Jewish Midrash in 2006. She makes her home with her husband and three sons in Evansville, Indiana, where she works as a grant writer for Youth First, Inc.Author City: EVANSVILLE, IN USA