How to Love the Empty Air by Cristin O'Keefe Aptowicz
My Review: This collection is the most powerful and completely moving, chest clenching, tear drop making, heart bursting, head on my desk, hand to my mouth, beautiful bit of writing that I have experienced in longer than I can recall. I completely have sunk into this story and I am still hanging out in it. It is with me.
Like a rough grit, it took me down and then gave me my own tender human heart right back. Page after page, it gave me permission to feel, grieve, love, be angry, and say goodbye. I am forever touched by this book and I keep it with me and re-read and soak it up over and over again.
I am forever moved and a vast life discovery has settled into my being, that we all have a universal experience in life, no matter how completely unique our story. I am forever indebted to books that open our center to feel and experience the human experiences of grief, love, pain, and healing. This is one of those books. I give all my regards and high recommendation to this collection.
Vulnerable, beautiful and ultimately life-affirming, Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz’s work reaches new heights in her revelatory seventh collection of poetry. Continuing in her tradition of engaging autobiographical work, How to Love the Empty Air explores what happens when the impossible becomes real―for better and for worse. Aptowicz’s journey to find happiness and home in her ever-shifting world sees her struggling in cities throughout America. When her luck changes―in love and in life―she can’t help but “tell the sun / tell the fields / tell the huge Texas sky…. / tell myself again and again until I believe it.” However, the upward trajectory of this new life is rocked by the sudden death of the poet’s mother. In the year that follows, Aptowicz battles the silencing power of grief with intimate poems burnished by loss and a hard-won humor, capturing the dance that all newly grieving must do between everyday living and the desire “to elope with this grief, / who is not your enemy, / this grief who maybe now is your best friend. / This grief, who is your husband, / the thing you curl into every night, / falling asleep in its arms…” As in her award-winning The Year of No Mistakes, Aptowicz counts her losses and her blessings, knowing how despite it all, life “ripples boundless, like electricity, like joy / like... laughter, irresistible and bright, / an impossible thing to contain.”
HOW TO LOVE THE EMPTY AIR brilliantly illuminates why we read poetry, and why poetry is needed. We read it to see another person’s unique experience, but also to help us clarify our own. And we read it to reassure ourselves that what we experience and feel it part of a larger human drama that we all share. Cristin reminds readers how huge, life-shifting events are totally unique and personal—and yet, they are also universal.
Cristin O'Keefe Aptowicz is the author of seven books of poetry, including The Year of No Mistakes, crowned the Book of the Year for Poetry by the Writers' League of Texas. She is also the author of two books of nonfiction, most recently Dr Mütter's Marvels: A True Tale of Intrigue and Innovation at the Dawn of Modern Medicine, which spent three months on the New York Times Best Seller List. Recent awards include a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, the ArtsEDGE write-in-residency at the University of Pennsylvania and the Amy Clampitt Residency. When not on the road, she lives in Austin with her husband.
Book Comes out March 20.
Thank You Serena for inviting me to participate in this blog tour.