Gnashing Teeth Publishing

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A Dangerous Heaven

A Dangerous Heaven creates personal and political conversations that resound through both the sacred and the secular worlds.

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By searching inside words like “even” and “never” to find the name of Eve, the first poem in A Dangerous Heaven invites us to use language, the medium by which we receive sacred stories, to question and illuminate those stories. In this keenly contemplative collection, naming and other language acts, and words–mistaken or intended–become the vehicles by which Jo Angela Edwins’ vivid figures build and rebuild stories of community and history, spirit and self. What kindles and compels in these poems is their fierce, generous lyric attention–to family, to the earth, to story and words for tenderness, violence, and terrible beauty, particularly in the lives of women, contemporary and Biblical. Edwins’ meditative images consider the “wild electrical stretch” of a human body’s craving, or the mystery of the luna moth, “what it means to be born / to a form so beautiful / the symmetry leaves / no space for a mouth, / no need to cry out.” But these poems will cry out, because “sometimes we can do / no more in this dusky world than plead to air.” They listen, too, anew for the voice of God, which may sound to Moses like “the hushed singing of our mothers.” Their discoveries offer bright chances to see where beauty and grief meet, and to “declare the cotton / falling from cottonwood / a giving, not a leaving”–to re-name what needs re-naming, taking language into their own bold and wondrous hands.

In A Dangerous Heaven, Jo Angela Edwins walks us through a multi-layered grief process for accumulated wrongs and losses: historical, biblical, global, national, and personal. "It is your responsibility to grieve," one poem says, and this is not a command, but an acknowledgement. These poems don't look away from wounds, especially those of women, and they don't turn elsewhere for comfort, yet they leave me feeling seen and comforted. Everyone needs to read this book.

An intimate volume with cosmic reach, witty and compassionate, A Dangerous Heaven transports us through a wide range of emotions, carries us to lofty and surprising places which might be dangerous if we didn't have Jo Angela Edwins's sure hand to catch us, to place our feet firmly on home soil. Crafted to honor insight and emotion, these daring poems will keep us company over time, like trusted friends.

Meet the Author

Jo Angela Edwins has published poems in over 100 journals, including Calyx, New South, Zone 3, The Hollins Critic, and Mom Egg Review. Her chapbook Play was published in 2016 by Finishing Line Press. She has received awards from Winning Writers, Poetry Super Highway, and the South Carolina Academy of Authors and is a Pushcart Prize, Forward Prize, and Bettering American Poetry nominee. She lives in Florence, SC, where she teaches at Francis Marion University and serves as the first poet laureate of the Pee Dee region of South Carolina.

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Norman AR 71960

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