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Tell the Turning (pre-order)

$18.00

Poems by Tara K. Shepersky
Illustrations by Lucy Bellwood

Attention! This is a pre-order! Tell the Turning ships October 20, with process updates along the way.

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A 160-page collection of poems by Tara K. Shepersky, with ink-and-wash illustrations by Lucy Bellwood, Tell the Turning is a lyrical journal, hymnal, and almanac all in one, rolled up into the volume’s three sections of poems: “Owl-Light Chronicle,” “Low Tide Book,” and “Mysteries of a Trinity.”

The collection follows multiple thematic rhythms and threads. To begin with, it is an ambulatory archive of Tara’s walks, and so it follows the rhythm of her steps and treks along a stretch of the Pacific coast from Oregon up to Washington and down to California.

Then there’s a circadian and seasonal rhythm, with Tara attuned to the tug of moon on tide and tide on poet; the balance (and present-day imbalance) of the seasons; the earth’s slumbers and awakenings; and flora and fauna by way of owls staking out the woods, acres of chaparral, and plenty of squelchy muck.

And there is the rhythm of Tara’s language, which melds melic lilt (“where winter waters sing the spring / in nettle and in mint”) with consonantal clamber (“field-flatten / break-bracken”). There’s also a shiver-inducing spell or two in the mix.

Lucy Bellwood (Baggywrinkles, 100 Demon Dialogues, the barn owl on this page) is illustrating the volume with ink-and-wash drawings: dioramas to gaze at, and maybe even disappear into without a backward glance. With this collaboration, Tara and Lucy are kindred spirits shadow-weaving through the woods and crossing paths at the scene of each illustration to compare notes and share some gorp.

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2021
Edition of 500
160 pages, paperback, b&w offset, sewn & glued
Printed on Arctic Munken Print Cream 115 and Pure Rough 300
Designed by Pilar Rojo

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A sample of three poems from Tell the Turning:

I Limit the Items I May Have With Me
in the Unphotographable Hour

Paper and pen; coffee
in its durable, its chipped ceramic cup,
a cool soft cream in the candleglow. Candles

like the harvest moon. Last night
I made you turn around
park where the road bleeds off
and walk with me inside the dark to see.
A promise, then a presence, then
a glory from the eastern ridge
gliding up the tasseled corn
settling its ripe and perfect weight
in the durable chipped cup of our two hands.

Seventeen years, these same fingers
uncasually joined. These different fingers:
cells renewing every several weeks.
Seventeen years becoming new
shedding literally every mote
but holding on to the alwaysness
of our bones tangled up and blessed by moonlight.

To remember this I require
almost nothing. So I am allowed

paper and pen, coffee
in its familiar cup. Your breathing singularity.
Purple dawn’s solitary glowing.

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Goodbye to the Slough at Daybreak,
and Praise, Praise

I am naming each creature
as sun who seeps
through sea-mist colors them in—
Good morning. Goodbye.

To moonstriped midnight wanderer
muscled low to lowtide marsh.

To fearless flat-faced flying one who hunts
so casually sunward.

And delicate dancing pointed one
whose purpose, perhaps:
the soft round sinewy flip
of fluff who darts beneath winter-blooming
branching ones, strong-scented shelter
from dunescraper’s seeking shadow.

Good morning to long-legged snowy stalker
of solid water spotted, striped, and flashing—
good morning to that patterned company, too.
And out in the channel to curious
bobbing whiskered ones; suckers of shells
in their busy backfloats, good morning.

Hello to anchoring succulent, autumn-hued.
To sandsong shapers followed over-dune.

To surfing squadrons skimming just
the silver tip of sun.

This is the way that I will travel, too.
North along the ragged edge
of my Pacific heart,
leaving you.

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Role Model

Imagine I said I wish to live as a bank of Nootka roses.

Catching breaths equally
with my thicket of thin curved daggers,
my swooning scent.

Showing off my hips in winter,
round or wrinkled, sun-cupped, bitter. Exactly
what you need.

Sinking my feet strong
in salty marshes, limbering my skin
to ocean’s whisper.

Imagine I am planted here, beautiful
and sharpening my knives.

(Listen to “Role Model” read out loud by Molly Lewis.)

You can also listen to a few more poems from the collection here, here, and here (headphones recommended).

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Tell the Turning in Tara’s words:

Tell the Turning began as a fellowship of imaginary friends. I dreamed them up to companion specific moments that felt either too difficult or too beautiful to bear alone.

Some of these are threshold moments: small and daily, or big and complex—seasons in their own right. A lonesome sunset far from home. A diagnosis. The leaching of daylight from a sky full of winter stars.

Some are moments where I needed a pause button, a way to teach myself: ‘Yes. You are here, present to the utter wonder of this life.’ I composed these poems both in and with several specific landscapes. If you know these landscapes, you might recognize them. But you don’t have to. I think you can still hear echoes from the landscapes, the seasons, and maybe the tides of your own heart.

My hope is that Tell the Turning can be a fellowship for you, too.”