Fog and Smoke: Poems (Hardcover)
Peterson unfurls the quotidian fabric of our lives, patterned with the difficulties of language and this moment.
Confusion frames the human predicament. In Katie Peterson’s Fog and Smoke, confusion is, literally, our climate. Writing to and from the California landscape, Peterson sees fog and smoke as literal—one a habitual, natural weather event, the other an increasingly common aftereffect of the West’s drought-caused fires. But they are also metaphysical. Fog and smoke reflect the true conditions (and frustrations) of our ability to perceive and to connect. Peterson writes, “I’ve been speaking about it at a distance. / Now I want to talk about its thickness. / A person could get killed in here.”
The collection moves through three sections: First, the poet follows her local fog’s cyclical journey of descent and dispersion. Second, in a sort of pastoral interlude, she travels widely, almost erratically, to the California desert, the greater world, and ancient history. Finally, she descends into the enclosed space of the household, and the increased confinement and intimacy of raising a child during the pandemic. Peterson unfolds the small moments that make up our lives and reveals the truths contained within them, and her poems capture the lyricism of our daily rhythms—the interruptions, dialogues, and epiphanies.
About the Author
Katie Peterson is the author of the poetry collections This One Tree; Permission; The Accounts, winner of the Rilke Prize; and A Piece of Good News. She lives in California and teaches at the University of California, Davis.
"A book of terrified joy. It is a book that moves day by day, saturated in the moment . . . Peterson, an excellent storyteller . . . deftly braids personal lyric with narrative through the four unnamed sections of Fog and Smoke, moving between life and the ephemera that surrounds it, making meaning." —Valerie Duff-Strautmann, Los Angeles Review of Books
"Each line shines in the sun like stained glass. Fog and Smoke is a triumph of observation and intimacy that invigorates the reader to act for the natural world." —Michael Ruzicka, Booklist (starred review)