"A poem can begin anywhere," Jay Udall says, "with the smallest object or image-a wildflower, a weed, a face, a scrap of memory-yet it should move into unexpected terrain. I want my poems to be grounded in the details of daily experience, in the physical world, in what is close at hand, but also to touch otherness, strangeness, mystery. This is what I look for, what I pursue, in the writing-a sense of surprise, of stumbling onto something unforeseen. "To work with the unfolding of a poem entails risk. I must be willing to follow where it leads, even when it asks me to enter some new wilderness of perception and experience. In other words, I must be willing to change. Poetry, if pursued in depth, is subversive and restorative. It delves beneath custom and convention, beneath all forms of received wisdom, beneath all fixed theories and interpretations, returning us to a sense of life as we know it to be in our deeper moments: beautiful, terrible, paradoxical. Writing poetry is, for me, a way of staying alive." *** "It is a gentle book, and very perceptive. Tragedies are muted by a mystery and wholeness that is magical and uncommonly compassionate. At heart there is a melody and connection to earth and sky that grows on the reader throughout. Udall pays close attention to the smallest mercies and terrors of creation, building a sincere and loving identity that swoops off into the firmament. And his home in the dark is eventually flooded with light." (John Nichols) *** With a Master's degree in American Literature from George Washington University, Jay Udall has taught literature and writing to students of all ages and backgrounds, from all over the U.S. and beyond. His poems and short stories have appeared in more than fifty publications, including magazines, literary journals, newspapers, and anthologies, and he is the author of two previous books of poetry, Learning the Language (Bellowing Ark, 1997) and First Identity (winner of the 2001 Redgreene Pres?