“Sara June Woods’ book Careful Mountain is a collection of poems, comprised of intricate lacings of sound, rhyme, and repetition. They look a great deal like letters, but they aren’t simply letters. Instead they are poems written directly to a someone, a someone who constantly changes but who by being the recipient of such strong emotions also remains one steady thing. These poems resist any one categorization that with their natural and unnatural imagery are about nature, or that the ways these poems contain images of love make them about love. Or that these poems that contain dog or god or Juniper or Jupiter resist more than to say they have simply turned a corner through turning one letter or breath, but instead that they have made magic, real magic. These poems are spells.”
–Dorothea Lasky, author of ROME: Poems
“Sara June Woods poems turn love letters into investigations. By treating her subjects with sincere admiration and wonder, she seeks out answers within a transitory world that may never answer: handholding becomes a flood, a burning field becomes a home, a girl stuck on a ferris wheel becomes a thing for birds to fly through. Careful Mountain regards the slivers of the world as not only parts of a whole, but the whole thing itself.”
“Sara June Woods’ Careful Mountain offers us a portrait of someone getting to know her gender through passionate experimentation with language, through imagination and through role-play, along the bridge of the transition process. Her language throughout is a kind of sonar, bouncing off addressees and objects which might or might not be able to listen or respond, transforming deftly from letter-writing into speech and back again, from intimacy to distance and back again. It’s a vulnerable invulnerable performance of working through the emerging self’s desires and a new relationship to the world of words which might be things and vice versa. Constantly pulling the rug out from under scenarios she invents for her own pleasure or drama with quick shifts of location or scenario, Woods blurs and blends boundaries with sardonic freshness, longing, and humor. You’ll never guess what’s about to happen next.”
“Sara June Woods is grove of trees on an enormous dark, cold, but very life-slathered mountain. Her writing is so bright you can notice it behind a burning cloud. Reading her is like finding true love in a dead bird and later deciding that being in love with a dead bird is silly. After your dead bird love affair unravels like an old sweater, a warm bed of snow falling on a dark night and wistful, you’d wish you were good enough at knitting to make something of all this tangled yarn you can’t get out of your head for weeks.”
“Careful Mountain is rhythmic, musical, sensory, dreamy, filled with imagery almost oceanic in its vastness and ebb and flow. Sara June Woods fills her poetry with ephemeral romance and love that disappears and slips away from tangibility and firmness—as soon as the image becomes clear, it moves again. This is a gorgeous book.”
“Woods is a gleeful master of the run on sentence. I am in awe of her ability to keep going, to stretch a tiny corner of the world over the page until it rips open and leaks out another. There’s an easiness to the work, a way of speaking clearly that feels like love itself. But these poems have such gravity too, they pin us to the earth and clobber us with beauty and that feels baroque. The self is everywhere in Careful Mountain, pouring out of flowers and ants and deer faces. “I” and “You” are based in the atmosphere—each a thing to experience, a live event, a breeze. Woods doesn’t pretend not to love her mind and for that we are lucky.”
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