Backwaters Press News: New Poetry Winner is Now Available

Founded in 1997, the Backwaters Press has worked to produce award-winning books by some of America’s finest authors. UNP acquired Backwaters in 2018, adding an impressive backlist in poetry and prose that contributes to the cultural landscape of our state and region. As a general interest imprint of the Press, Backwaters continues to build on roots planted firmly in the Great Plains, delighting readers with literature of enduring value and consequence. The following are updates from our newest imprint! 

Foxlogic, Fireweed by Jennifer K. Sweeney is here!

Winner of the Backwaters Prize in Poetry, Jennifer K. Sweeney’s Foxlogic, Fireweed follows a lyrical sequence of five physical and emotional terrains—floodplain, coast, desert, suburbia, and mesa—braiding themes of nature, domesticity, isolation, and human relationships. These are poems of the earth’s wild heart, its searing mysteries, its hollows, and its species, poems of the complex domestic space, of before and after motherhood, gun terror, the election, of dislocation and home, and of how we circle toward and away from our centers. Sweeney is not afraid to take up the domestic and inner lives of women, a nuanced relationship with the natural world that feels female or even maternal, or a duty to keeping alive poetry’s big questions of transcendence, revelation, awe, and deep presence in the ordinary.

Jennifer K. Sweeney is the author of three other poetry collections, including Little SpellsHow to Live on Bread and Music, and Salt Memory. The recipient of the James Laughlin Award from the Academy of American Poets and a Pushcart Prize, she teaches at the University of Redlands in California.

The logic of Foxlogic, Fireweed is human and humane; it’s the logic of a penetrative tenderness and an embodiment always on the verge of dispersing into fox, or deer, or rain. . . . These are not bandwagon poems. They don’t mug for the camera. Rather, they enact a love ‘sourced in loneliness’ where ‘with our little keys of witness’ we find each other—the very definition of the lyric poem.”

—Diane Seuss

In Jennifer K. Sweeney’s beautiful new collection, poems serve as altars for the fierce hearts and fairytales that center our lives. . . . These poems recognize how sacred attention can be. In Foxlogic, Fireweed nothing escapes hiding and nothing escapes love.”

—Traci Brimhall

Foxlogic, Fireweed is a torn map of a state where all words are proximate to mystery. Venturing into terra incognita, into territory that might be anima mundi, maybe, reader, you think you know the lineaments, but they are altered. Altared. Yes, to dream space, but wilder, wider—this metal into bird, stone into air, mother into vulpine. Sweeney is breathing strangeness into a small body of words, and the expanses open exponentially.”

—Marsha de la O

The poems in Jennifer K. Sweeney’s Foxlogic, Fireweed do the hard work of ‘remaining in the perhaps.’ Sweeney walks the many fine lines between introspection and observation, speaking plainly and singing. She finds moments of awe in the everyday, urging us to ‘keep afraid what is fearful, hold what demands to be held.’”

—Grace Bauer, author of Mean/Time

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