This is not the pastoral tradition of city-dwelling Latin poets nor English poets of the court pining eloquently for their country houses. Sarah Estes is rooted in the landscape, where "mud became our country and dusk became our home." Even in the most remote spots on her map (Mongolia, Siberia, Japan) this poet enacts the "far fields of faith/ the hungry winters of infant hands." Estes keeps watch over the old path: "In this tableau, I am a strange girl on/ the banks of a creek; hands cupped in farm/ run-off, a hundred years in making." This is a voice bound to the land but unleashed, "hell bent on something / and finally free."
D.A. Powell, author of Tea, Lunch, Cocktails, Chronic and Useless Landscape, or A Guide for Boys, which received the National Book Critics Circle Award in Poetry in 2013.
In Field Work Sarah Estes accomplishes that remarkable trick the best poets have mastered: to fully embody and give voice to the notion of life as inconclusive and unsatisfying, and yet, to do so with poetry of doggedly fierce aliveness and beauty. Her physical landscapes ─ Mississippi’s plains, Siberia, Mongolia, and Japan ─ feed what she describes as her attraction to remoteness, and become canvasses on which she paints elegies of loss, memory, and wisdom. In her world it is normal for winter to ‘have it in’ for unsuspecting humans, for divorce and romance to share the same precarious neurosis of passion and despair. She writes of self as part of a wide and complex political and social history, and she does it with consummate and efficient craft. ‘I awake mastered,’ she writes, and yet it is in her ‘mastery of the thing’ that she stirs us to, if only for a moment, feel satisfyingly alive.
Kwame Dawes, Professor of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and editor-in-chief at the Prairie Schooner
I’m drawn to its honesty, and to her ability to ground the poems so firmly in place while retaining a sense of lightness (there’s breathing room many of these poems, even as they are simultaneously breathtaking), and especially to her surprising-yet-somehow-inevitable imagery.
Ruth Foley, Managing Editor of Cider Press Review and author of Creature Feature
These poems are highly intelligent and witty...
Jonathan Galassi, Poet, Translator, Novelist and President and Publisher of Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Sarah Estes’ Hive Bone is a meditation on the “mid-country in a waning century” as a familiar and sensual character: one the speaker knows intimately and is terrified of losing, yet has lost already both in terms of aging and geographic distance. Estes packs into this brief landscape a poetics of ecstatic terror where the vastness of space becomes, very briefly, a solace where “the stars ready beneath the hopping grass” and “the moon cover[s] us all.”
Lilah Hegnauer, author of Dark Under Kiganda Stars and Pantry
At once startling and hypnotic, Sarah Estes’ Hive Bone charts memory and myth deeply rooted in the Midwestern landscape. Like “the stars ready beneath the hopping grass,” these gorgeously lush poems illuminate the imagination with their sharp intelligence and generous vision.
Ye Chun, author of Travel Over Water, Lantern Puzzle and others