Author Event with Melissa Kwasny (The Cloud Path)

  • Where: Shakespeare & Co. 103 S 3rd St W Missoula, Montana
  • When: Apr 19th, 2024 at 5:00 pm

Shakespeare & Co. is pleased to host a reading by celebrated poet Melissa Kwasny on Friday, April 19, at 5:00 pm. Kwasny will read selections from her new poetry collection The Cloud Path (Milkweed Editions, April 2024). This event is free and open to the public.

Melissa Kwasny is the author of seven collections of poems, including The Cloud Path, Where Outside the Body Is the Soul Today, Pictograph, and The Nine Senses, which contains a set of poems that won the Poetry Society of America’s 2008 Cecil Hemly Award. A portion of Pictograph received the Alice Fay Di Castagnola Award, judged by Ed Roberson. Kwasny is also the author of Earth Recitals: Essays on Image and Vision, and has edited multiple anthologies, including Toward the Open Field: Poets on the Art of Poetry 1800–1950 and, with M.L. Smoker, I Go to the Ruined Place: Contemporary Poems in Defense of Global Human Rights. Widely published in journals and anthologies, her work has appeared in Ploughshares, Boston Review, and The Arcadia Project: North American Postmodern Pastoral. She lives outside of Jefferson City, Montana, in the Elkhorn Mountains.

About The Cloud Path:
An imaginative reworking of the elegy that focuses on the difficult work of being with the dying.

At the heart of The Cloud Path, celebrated author Melissa Kwasny’s seventh collection of poetry, lies the passing of her beloved mother: the caretaking, the hospice protocols, the last breath, the aftermath. Simultaneously, she must reckon with the array of global crises facing us all: environmental decline, the arrival of a pandemic, divisive social tensions. With so much loss building up around her, Kwasny turns to the natural world for guidance, walking paths lined with aspen, snow geese, and prickly pears. “I have come here for their peace and instructions,” she writes, listening to the willows, the “slant rhyme of their multi-limbed clatter.”

What she finds is a more seasoned kind of solace. The Cloud Path glimmers with nature’s many lively colors—the “burnt orange” of foxes, “cedar / bark cast in the greenest impasto,” white swans intertwined. It also embraces the world’s harsher elements—a dark bog’s purple stench, a hayfield empty of birds. Witnessing life’s constant ebb and flow, the weight of personal and collective grief gradually becomes bearable. The shapes of clouds, cattle bones by the river. “Why not,” she asks, “believe it matters?”

Evocative and wrenching, The Cloud Path compels us to consider the whole of living and dying. A beautifully measured interweaving of personal and planetary loss, these keen and tender poems teach us to see afresh in the lateness of things.

If you're giving dry a try this month, Missoula has plenty of spots for mocktails. Check out some of our favorites

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