Ceridwen Hall's debut full-length collection brings "charming geekiness" to poems of family and communication .
“Acoustic shadows are areas where the typical movement of soundwaves is disrupted—by wind, by walls, by tidal currents or fluctuations in ocean temperature—such that sounds become muted or warped. On land, they enable noise to refract around an intervening silence, conjuring ghostly echoes. For a submarine in dangerous waters, an acoustic shadow might be a treacherous blind spot or an ideal hiding place.” This explanation of the title that opens Ceridwen Hall’s first full-length poetry collection also reveals her program, for indeed this is a book full of disruptions and ghostly echoes, navigating the dangerous waters of “a future / where houses outlive parents” and we must contemplate how it is “awful now to expect / to live another half-century or more in this world / all our need is destroying.” Real submarines ply these pages, along with Marconi and all manner of fascinating technical details, but as the title of one poem (“My Sisters Are Cold War Submarines”) makes clear, her real subject here is family, itself a treacherous sea to sail. In the end what she seeks, and finds, is that ideal hiding place, “a safe distance from which to love everyone.”
Poetry. Family & Relationships.
“Ceridwen Hall’s ACOUSTIC SHADOWS brings deep intelligence and a charming geekiness to its record of obsession: with codes and instruments and devices of communication or obfuscation, with water, with memory and its glitches, with family and the kinds of loneliness we feel on our own and in company, with the ways in which language itself can blur meaning as well as transmit it. In poems that are exactly right for this moment, Hall examines how we perceive and communicate across vast distances and through strange and rapidly-evolving media, constantly questioning what we know and how we know it, whether we are communicating via letter, telegraph, or Zoom.”
—Katharine Coles, author of Ghost Apples
“The distances explored in ACOUSTIC SHADOWS – between submarines and siblings, quarantined bodies, continents, homes, swaths of time – are both amplified and collapsed in Hall’s resonant vision. These poems reconcile an age of apartness mediated by technology where 'everything happens nowhere' and language connects us incompletely. Intimate family narrative coincides with histories of Morse code and maritime navigation, offering vessels in which to 'double back / and disrupt our own wakes.' Come within range; this is a collection that both teaches and takes you, poetry of great heart that demands to be found.”
—Jess Williard, author of Unmanly Grief
“In these poems, skulls whisper, sisters come and go like cold war submarines, artifacts are circled like sharks, memory is carried as cargo across the vast distance of age-gaps and familial patterns in time. And though Hall’s poems sometimes assure us, 'we’re all alike underwater,' they also remind us that 'listening is not simple'—to love is to learn to grow denser than the sea, to navigate safe distances for loneliness by error and repair, to hope the communication wires don’t disintegrate across the gaps between us. ACOUSTIC SHADOWS is a gorgeous force of a book, reckoning with how to 'reach through a pause in the telling' in order to come out in the aftermath’s gleam.”
—Cori Winrock, author of Little Envelope of Earth Conditions
Ceridwen Hall is a poet and educator from Ohio. She completed her MFA at the University of Illinois, Urbana- Champaign, and her PhD at the University of Utah, where she received the Clarence Snow Fellowship and the Levis Prize in Poetry. She is the author of two chapbooks: Automotive (Finishing Line Press, 2020) and fields drawn from subtle arrows (Co-winner of the 2022 Midwest Chapbook Award). Her work has appeared in TriQuarterly, Pembroke Magazine, Tar River Poetry, The Cincinnati Review, Craft, Poet Lore, and other journals.