Author in Profile: Julie Joosten | Book*hug Press

Author in Profile: Julie Joosten

( The valley carries
cemeteries in its mouth, grounds sound
to seed and buries it –
there is a world and the world inside it – )

“Once Sun”

So everything is light once we learn to see by it. To honor the field we should “leave the field,” but this book we should never leave.

—Jane Gregory

Julie Joosten is another of BookThug’s debut authors this fall, and we are proud to have published Light Light, her first collection of poetry. The poems in Light Light range from the epigrammatic to the experimental, from the narrative to the lyric, consistently exploring the way language captures the undulation of a mind’s working, how that rhythm becomes the embodiment of thought, and how that embodiment forms a politics engaged with the environment and its increasing alterations.

When the valley came to be a valley I was watching winter grasses brown against the sky then green then suddenly in a startling smallness bud to pink. But it wasn’t as peaceful as that. Mud thickened the ground, made it grabby.

“Once Sun”

Moving from the Enlightenment science of natural history to the contemporary science of global warming, Light Light is a provocative engagement with the technologies and languages that shape discourses of knowing. It bridges the histories of botany, empire, and mind to take up the claim of “objectivity” as the dissolution of a discrete self and thus explores the mind’s movement toward and with the world.

By sympathy of suggestion I remember what I am. Walking beside a river humming with the dark.

“Once Sun”

Joosten was the winner of The Malahat Review’s 2011 Long Poem Prize, for her poem “The Sun Estate,” which appears revised as “Once Sun” in Light Light. You can read what she has to say about her poem “The Sun Estate” in an interview with The Malahat Review here, or have a peek into her creative process for Light Light in another interview with the publication, here. She has completed an MFA in poetry at the University of Iowa, and recently completed a doctorate in English literature. As a participant in the Open Book Toronto series, “Writers as Readers,” Joosten lists her most inspirational reads, her most anticipated reads, and reveals that her intense passion for profundity and language has propelled her since she was a teenager: “I was very absorbed in Faulkner when I was seventeen,” she said, “and I wonder how Faulkner and Woolf would have interacted in my seventeen-year-old mind, not to mention at dinner.”

Praise for Light Light

Light Light puts the hive back in the archive, the source in the resource. Through Joosten’s miraculous mode of attending, through this mind that “grounds sound to seed,” we are elemented – “The mind is a mood of electricity, warmth, water, and wind.” We are given a mode of attending that is precarious, is an enactment of the precariousness we are and, with consequence, institute. Each thing this attention falls upon “is a source of thought, not its object.” So everything is light once we learn to see by it. To honor the field we should “leave the field,” but this book we should never leave.
– Jane Gregory

A concordance that emerges as material, thought, and material thought, Julie Joosten’s Light Light is a most beautiful and rare breed: as if H.D.’s Sea Garden mated with Erasmus Darwin’s The Loves of the Plants. “I was to guard the valley, name it, speak to it by name,” Joosten writes. Hers is a haunting lament. It is what love is. What could be more necessary at this time on this planet?
– Cara Benson


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