Epistle, Osprey

by Geri Doran


Contemplative and disquieted, the poems of Epistle, Osprey trace the mysteries of encounter, wanderlust, rootedness, the human relationship with nature, and our uncertain place in a startling world—here where “an eagle ascends with its broken feast.”

Published: August 2019
Format: Paperback

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“Contemplative and disquieted, the poems of EPISTLE, OSPREY trace the mysteries of encounter, wanderlust, rootedness, the human relationship with nature, and our uncertain place in a startling world…” –SPD Recommends

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ISBN: 978-1-946482-23-5 Categories: , Tags: ,

In her third collection, Geri Doran continues to seek a quieter poem in a more natural form. Against the immediacy of troubled times, these poems retain a belief that long thought, solitude, restraint, and immersion in the world given to us (not made by us) are a means of passionate, even radical, devotion.  And yet—what happens when a poet begins to doubt her singular reliance on poetry?  When the only way to speak is in a language poised to evanesce?  Modal, flexible, sonorous—the lines and tones of these meditative lyrics trace one route back.


Photo by Jay Eads

Geri Doran is author of three books of poems, Epistle, Osprey (Tupelo Press, 2019), Sanderlings (Tupelo Press, 2011) and Resin (Louisiana State University Press, 2005), winner of the 2004 Walt Whitman Award of the Academy of American Poets. Her work has been recognized with a Stegner Fellowship, the Amy Lowell Poetry Travelling Scholarship, an Oregon Arts Commission fellowship, and residency fellowships from the James Merrill House, Maison Dora Maar, Lighthouse Works, Millay Colony and Vermont Studio Center. Individual poems have appeared in The Yale Review, New England Review, New Republic, Atlantic Monthly, Ninth Letter, Southwest Review, Southern Review, Virginia Quarterly Review, and elsewhere. Doran currently teaches in the Creative Writing Program at the University of Oregon.

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Weight 0.4 lbs
Dimensions 6 × 0.5 × 9 in


For many days I walked to know an island, its tributary paths,
and slipped among the trees to find a hidden beach
or stopped beside the brackish oyster beds
seeking again the feeling—
simply any feeling.

A long time before, feeling had come naturally
and into phrases, shaped and plain,
and that was lost to me,
I feared.

So I walked to know again the textures of the world,
a tangled brier, a hedgerow with its orange
berries, and over here red berries,
and purple ones on branches spiked
like rose-stems.

I came back torn, as when I shear the rosebush in my yard—
and put the berries in a glass already filled
with wildflowers, on a table
softened by fox-red and amber
shoots of reed grass.

Slowly sensation returned. Scrambling over the boulders
on the difficult beach, collecting beach-trash—
Styrofoam, half-empty bottles, cigarette
butts and limp balloons, tampons
from crevices,

some afloat in seawater lounging in rock pools—
I watched my friend billy goat the outcrops,
two black stuffed bags hitched
over his shoulders
lighter than

the slim notebook where he writes down the things
he wishes to remember. How fresh the water
seemed there on the sea-struck, guano’d
rocks, as if neither trash nor rotting fish
could mar

the beachscape of thrown rock, so unearthly
it seemed more earth than anywhere I’d walked—
what salt wind and ocean’s pumice
would make clean.


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