I never expected to find a few recipes at the end of a poetry book. But that is what concludes No Such Thing as Distance by Karen Paul Holmes. Strange as it seems, they fit perfectly. The poems are filled with “ingredients” – a dab of family history, immigration, marriage; a pinch of illness, death, divorce; along with measurements of geography. Karen’s poems illuminate how the ordinary is really a combination of extraordinary ingredients.
I let the words of other’s who have reviewed No Such thing as Distance fill you in on more about the collection. For the moment, I’m still in the kitchen surrounded by all the amazing ingredients.
No Such Thing as Distance
by Karen Paul Holmes
Paperback: 102 pages
Publisher: Terrapin Books (February 1, 2018)
Available through Amazon and Terrapin Books.
Macedonia Bean Soup
His mail gets forwarded now
but sometimes a letter slips through.
My ex enters my mail slot,
his address, mine once again.
An envelope might even slap
Mr. and Mrs.
This sadness, some say
it will linger. My cheerful self
will have a chink.
Does it add character?
I pass the Heavenly Ham shop,
think of the bean soup
my dad taught him to make
and see them in our kitchen
chopping yellow onions just so,
the secret pinch of mint,
peppers a little too hot for me
but not for them,
how of all the sons-in-law
he was the one who asked to learn,
how I will never have his soup again.
Perhaps one day, I’ll make it myself.
Call the leaving a blessing, move
to the shore of a silver-blue lake,
mountains echoing fireworks
on the Fourth of July,
chinks of brilliance in a black sky.
“Karen Paul Holmes is a convincing poet. In No Such Thing as Distance, she mends the body/mind split, the life/death split, the love/betrayal split, the parent/child split and its reversals—a mother in a coffin in a blond (instead of gray) wig. With grace, beauty, and humor, she explores how the past remains the present through music, art, pop culture (Barbie and the Beatles), as well as her rich cultural inheritance. A truly empathetic writer, Holmes feels her family’s medical procedures and provides us with food (even the recipes!) She knows that Zumba and the waltz are all part of the same great dance. Her title may signal quantum physics, but it’s also how close this poet whispers in her reader’s ear.” – Denise Duhamel, Scald
“What marvelous poems these are, and how complete a collection. Like a circus aerialist who makes us gasp one moment and laugh the next, the poet takes us from her immigrant father’s Macedonian roots to her own maturity, to the life of a woman who is smart and well-read yet knows her way around a Coney Island hot dog and finds the attentions of a drunk cowboy oddly flattering. There are so many good poems here that it’s hard to pick a favorite, but I’ll put my money on “Confessions of an Ugly Nightgown,” in which a dead woman’s shapeless article of intimate apparel says it can still rouse a sleeping husband and is loveliest as it lies on the floor.” – David Kirby, Get Up Please
“Karen Paul Holmes lifts up the extraordinary found in the everyday. Here are poems that brim with finely-crafted detail, anchored to place while at the same time embracing change and impermanence. “Gulls winter here. / Like all fleeting things, they’re special to me,” she writes of a morning scene at her lake home. In poem after elegant poem, Holmes takes us across generations and countries as she grapples with larger issues, unafraid to explore the fullness of love and loss, the circularity of life. “I lived this day once,” she tells us, “and then lived it again.”” – Nancy Chen Long, Light Into Bodies
About the Poet:
Karen Paul Holmes has two full-length poetry collections, No Such Thing as Distance (Terrapin, 2018) and Untying the Knot (Aldrich, 2014). She was chosen as a Best Emerging Poet in 2016 by Stay Thirsty Media. Publications include Prairie Schooner, Valparaiso Review, Tar River Poetry, Poet Lore, Diode, and other journals and anthologies. Holmes hosts the Side Door Poets in Atlanta and Writers’ Night Out in the Blue Ridge Mountains. She also teaches writing classes at the John C. Campbell Folk School and other venues. http://www.karenpaulholmes.com