A book of ruthless poise, Latest Volcano masters form and forms—pantoum, sestina, terza rima, narrative, elegy—well-suited to its wily protagonist, Eros. —Stephanie Strickland
Tana Jean Welch: Latest Volcano
Praise for Latest Volcano
In Latest Volcano, Tana Jean Welch reveals through poetry the gift and power of story. Each poem in this dense volume is lyrically defined by both narrative structure and holistic convergence of abstract and concrete. The presentation of characters, settings, and situations is as subtly beautiful as it is haunting, and leaves the reader inspired and in awe. These poems are gilt-lined, catching to the eye and the mind, and reminiscent of the broader circumstances found within everyday humanity. Greg Bem, Rain Taxi Review
A book of ruthless poise, Latest Volcano masters form and forms—pantoum, sestina, terza rima, narrative, elegy—well-suited to its wily protagonist, Eros. A canny figure, unabashed by war or fidelity, in league with cruelty and memory, Eros, somewhat at the expense of the poet, evolves a wild, patient, don’t-mess-with-me self-knowledge. “Stay still and love/fades…” she says; but you, are you to move on? Loop back? Dance for your life? Well, all of those.—Stephanie Strickland, Contest Judge
"These are poems of relentless intensity addressing the things that matter to us—love, sex, war. In telling us their stories, they find their place to stand, which may not always be where the reader would stand, and that’s their power. These are not words that shout, but they are poems that lead us to their moment."
--Alberto Ríos, Whispering to Feel the Wind and The Smallest Muscle in the Human Body
“In the way that the poet H.D. gathered long-scattered mythic shards to bring vision to a shattered world, Tana Jean Welch creates her own mythology, metamorphic and sensuous, in elegant poems that have the power to terrify, to fill one with awe, as the poet attempts to pin down where the human soul resides.”
--Sandra Alcosser, A Fish to Feed All Hunger and Except by Nature
ISBN 978-0-9906669-8-1 (pbk.) $16.00
About the Author: Tana Jean Welch earned her MFA in Poetry from San Diego State University and her PhD in English from Florida State University. Her poems have appeared in journals including The Southern Review, The Gettysburg Review, Beloit Poetry Journal, Prairie Schooner, and the anthology Best New Poets. Born and raised in Fresno, California, she currently teaches literature and writing at the Florida State University College of Medicine.
NOTHING TO SEE HERE
The girl takes a bus across town
to the Pan de Vida and buys
a rosary. On the return trip
she crimps the brown beads in her palm
and pretends she is a Catholic.
She imagines herself on pilgrimage to Cologne,
peering into the hearts of 11,000 virgins.
She wants to see the arsenal
of ribs, shoulder blades, and femurs—the riot
of relics resting in the basilica. Pray
to St. Ursula’s martyred handmaids:
touch the skull caps of twenty virgins
say ten Hail Marys
and you get to start over—
her body unspoiled, her body
never pressed against damp dirt
in a wide field, bluestem grass waving
a secret fortress around bare skin.
She imagines a priest feeding her apple strudel,
wrapping her in red cloth.
She ponders the logistics of beheading 11,000 girls:
How many Huns did it take? How much blood,
Bulls with bells around their necks, large black bulls
flipping over in dust, dancing with yards of yellow silk.
Her father carrying her through the gates of the arena,
an easel strapped to his back, a warm churro in her small fist.
Bulls slowly turning red at the bite of each lance. People outside
the arena, glazed red, shouting under buckets of insincere blood,
to make a point, her father said. People inside cheering, waving
white handkerchiefs, hoping to be thrown a tail or a hoof.
After his death, the girl spent months trying to believe in ghosts
who smelled like her father: Old Spice, Budweiser,
linseed—she managed to muster a phantom father dragging
his old brushes and paint over canvas, an exact likeness
who stayed in nightclothes till dinner, smashed empty beer cans—
But soon enough her mother sold the last painting
and the spirit sped away, popping wheelies
on a damaged motorcycle without saying so much as goodbye.
Slowly she forgot his voice and the shape
of his face until all that was left were the bulls.
The matador in the bull ring, real blood seeping from his stomach.
A single memory to live by: her father telling her it was good to see
both a bull pocked with the spears of the picadores and a matador gored,
the needle-sharp horn of the plowbeast piercing clean through.