This is a love poem to a pond and these poems are full of a lover’s dwelling attention. There are, obviously, other things and other loves that happen in this book. But it is the pond that is always there, always transforming the narrator of these poems into something that is also osprey and eagle, ladywalker and pikebug, always transforming itself as the seasons change.
-Juliana Spahr, author of That Winter the Wolf Came, and An Army of Lovers
The poems in J.R. Toriseva’s BARBED WATER are pond songs, bee hums, and swans’ trumpets. They’re an excuse to be quiet and listen, to be unsettled. With language as rich and original as wilderness itself, these poems elicit awareness of our actual relationship with our natural world. They are a reminder of our place within the deep universe of nature which backgrounds and foregrounds our lives; a universe to which J.R. Toriseva has listened and has offered us these poems as an invitation to witness, reflect and wonder.
-Jonterri Gadson, author of Blues Triumphant
I figured it first a meditation, but the violence surging throughout Barbed Water defies stillness. Yet, J.R. Toriseva’s speaker is fixed—near frozen—in a bristling landscape of cracking boughs, rupturing buds, keening carrion birds, and always the pond, there like the hub of a wheel, will o’ the wisp, loose leaf sheet. These poems are terribly beautiful, almost liturgically uneasy pastorals, evocative recordings of a poet learning to “stay in [her] body, to remain present” while time and nature lurch coolly on.
-Douglas Kearney, author of Patter, Someone Took Their Tongue and guest editor of Best American Experimental Writing