Joanna Catherine Scott

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Poems of loss, grief and resolution following the drunk driving death of  my daughter's best friend.




Includes "Rain, Blue Ridge Mountains,"

winner of the Rita Dove Poetry Award

and

"The Boy at the Nightclub," winner of the NC Writers Network Randall Jarrell Poetry Award.

IN THE DAWN VALLEY

Winner of the 2008 Jandall Jarrell Poetry Award


I have come early to this valley  where the girl died and the boy was smashed into the earth. The air is cool, the grass wet underfoot. Joe Pye weed, mauve and melancholy, grows tall as a man with a child held on his shoulders, and white flowers on fragile-looking stems rise up all over. Their heads are delicate and intricate, like tatted lace, or stars, or photographs of snowflakes blown up large. They are completely still, as if they have been dried and set in place, stretching out across the valley, almost orderly, almost haunting, almost (I do not want to think of this again) like the small white crosses up and down the road.


Except that these are not crosses, but flowers. They are their own memorial. And they are alive, I can see that now, because a light breeze has risen and is traveling through the valley, and their heads, one after the other, bow before it. It is a scene both beautiful and tender, with the silver sky of morning in the valley’s cleft and the gray mist overhead. The birds’ voices are like bells, the insects’ voices like the struck metal of a thousand triangles, each note vibrating clear. Somewhere a cow lows, deep and mellow as an organ played in church.


There is nothing else for me to say, nothing to be done, except, perhaps, to discover the name of these white flowers, or to name them. Yes, I will name them. I will give them a private name, one that only I will know.


I will call them Flowers of Benediction.



JUDGE'S COMMENTS

  "In the Dawn Valley evokes a special memorial place in a voice both slightly formal in its deliberate movement and slightly conversational. This is spoken poetry of a lovely musicality, in a movement appropriate to the subject. The details are clear, moving, authentic, the syntax natural, unforced, elegant, all neither over- nor understated."

—Jim Applewhite, Professor, American Literature, Duke University, Judge, Randall Jarrell Poetry Award


"Night Huntress—I've never seen anything quite like it before.

It stand beautifully apart and alone.”

—Eileen Malone,  President, PEN/Nob Hill


"Stunning. One of the finest manuscripts I’ve ever read. Compelling from beginning to end, these prose poems—each alive in heart-pulsing language—tell a story of grief, madness, agony. Read this collection, and you will know that you are in the hands of a masterful writer whose prose poems are so lyrically controlled you won’t want to miss a single step, image, metaphor. A mystery of the heart so profound you will feel transported into myth and parable." ––Blair Honeycutt, Waiting for the Trout to Speak

“The story is told simply, in language so controlled and elegant that what was in fact an ugly tragedy becomes transformed into a thing of melancholic beauty. Night Huntress is a sobering and at the same time comforting and healing book.” 

—Tony Abbott, author of The Search for Wonder in the Cradle of the World 


There is prose poetry, and then there is poetry that looks like prose. Joanna Catherine Scott’s book Night Huntress is one of the best examples of true poetry in the guise of prose poetry that I’ve ever encountered . . . Scott possesses the true writer’s gift, the gift of empathy, the ability to see inside another’s pain, loss, hope without being blinded by it.” 

––Wild Goose Review

I have always greatly appreciated Joanna Catherine Scott's work. She balances a keen emotive intensity with an unsentimental overview. In this collection of related poems, she impacts us with vivid reminders of the precariousness and preciousness of life--leading us into a meditation on the beauty of relatedness, empathy for the suffering world--never collapsing into mawkishness. A compelling volume. ––John Amen, editor, The Pedestal

“A stunning verse-novel. A simple story of tragedy told through elegant and transcendent prose poems. Brave, melancholic, and benedictory, this is a compelling series of meditations. I highly recommend this to people who ask ‘What is a prose poem?’" 

Comstock Review