Leaving a Shadow

Heather Allen

Although there are no direct allusions to it in her poems, Heather Allen has clearly learned from the classical Chinese tradition how to listen to the world around her and how to allow it to speak through her, through observations of light and shadow and the turning seasons. As with her longtime practice of Tai Chi and her study of traditional Chinese medicine, her poetic practice leaves no room for self-indulgence, but rather seems to arise as naturally as leaf to branch. Hers is the temporal world of constant flux, but a world illuminated by a light that lies beyond, mysterious, essential, and alive.

ISBN: 9781556591136

Format: Paperback


Black trees that set
Their nets in fog, its waters
Rising to their knees,

And catch in a smoky mesh
Of branches
A school of yellow leaves.

About the Author

Heather Allen has been a gardener, bartender, stablehand, kindergarten teacher, and construction supervisor, among other things. She divides her time among New York City, New Preston, Connecticut, and Ireland, where she studies the language and culture, and translates Irish literature. In addition to her education at Tufts University and Hampshire College, for years Ms. Allen has studied Tai Chi, Qigong, and traditional Chinese medicine.

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“Allen translates her intimate knowledge of a particular lake and its surrounding forest into articulate observations, making the place almost tangible to the reader.” —Publishers Weekly

“Ms. Allen’s work contrasts sharply with the current craze for narcissistic exhibitionism, but these poems are by no means impersonal: a sensibility informs the observed and recorded and includes its own emotional responses. Leaving a Shadow is unusual, too, in its coherence; the focus of the whole collection recapitulates the quality of its component parts… Her lines, images, and stanzas have emerged with the musicality that is inseparable from precision.” —Denise Levertov