Like Wonderland or Oz, Neverland or Narnia, The Celery Forest is an extraordinary world filled with strange creatures and disorienting sights. But the doorway to the Celery Forest is not a rabbit hole or an old wardrobe. The doorway is an MRI. For poet and novelist Catherine Graham, this is the topsy-turvy world she found herself in after learning she had breast cancer.
More than a survivor’s tale, these poems are a map through unknowable terrain, infused with awareness and forgetting, written by a poet with the visionary ability to distill our sense of wonder into something we can hold.
“We might also call cancer an occasion for remembrance, for fear and bewilderment, and for exultation in birds. It’s a level of experience almost too intense to bear, both the immediacy of still-available delight and of one’s own fragility, when everything seen or felt is coloured and textured by it. That’s what Catherine Graham is after: when ‘Leaves dry out, become castanets,’ when ‘Your pale feet / grow rubies,’ when ‘You dream of trees.’ The Celery Forest is a book of enacted grace, poetic resourcefulness, and imaginative courage. It is also, regarding its subject and its author’s experience, a genuine and intensely compelling work of art.”
– Robert Wrigley, author of Anatomy of Melancholy and Other Poems
“Such a beautiful book, where every bird, cell and syllable counts. After a few reads I found myself approaching it like one long poem rather than a collection of shorter pieces. Catherine lets the weight of her subject matter bend, break and expand her lines wonderfully. The craft of her poetry is far, far stronger than the cancer she survived.”
– Patrick Woodcock, author of You Can’t Bury Them All
Other Titles by Catherine Graham