What others are saying about The Riddle of Yes:
In The Riddle of Yes, Carolyn Locke’s luminous, meditative poems guide us on the one journey we all take. We experience the deaths of others and sense the steely presence of our own. Like the dying friend in “Lament,” we ask “How long?”; we feel the heartache and confusion of being “between.” Time, that errant one, suspends itself; and we wayfarers, enclosed in its otherworldly shadow, walk the path of riddles, dreams, and the sudden shapeshifting of skins—“It starts when she looks in the mirror / and isn’t there.” Then comes a “blessed stillness,” a letting go of certainties: lines dissolve, skin melts, mouths morph into cathedral windows. We become echoes of “every where” and “every time.” We empty and fill; we dissolve into nothing and everything; we are rose, seed, wind. We are the AND, the “YES.” In these poems that pay loving attention to both life’s wonders and death’s necessary embrace, the momentary and the forever meld…
—Margaret Yocom, author of ALL KINDS OF FUR: Erasure Poems & New Translation of a Tale from the Brothers Grimm
Carolyn Locke’s poems possess lyric qualities and move like a film of words. Her lines have the power to coalesce and expand from scene to scene, as when she writes, “so many unanswered questions / unwinding through the universe.” In some of her poems, when she comes closest to loss, she eschews punctuation and uses the lower case, including the diminished I, as in, “i tell you i believe in death.” Such quiet force can be likened to a nebula where her poems dwell suspended in time, steeped in the primordial seas of riddles to find the Yes. In their breadth, Locke’s poems are universal and nuanced, and in their natural music they embrace life wholeheartedly.
––Joseph Zaccardi, poet laureate of Marin County, California (2013-2015) and author of A Wolf Stands Alone in Water, The Nine Gradations of Light, Render, and Vents.
The poems in The Riddle of Yes by Carolyn Locke are not observations, thoughts or reflections, they’re direct experience. The experience is not just that of the poet, but also belongs to the reader who, sitting still with book in hands, forgets that the chair and the lamp are even there because “what you will find is a cove/emptying and filling without end.”
Locke’s poetry has long been bringing together the concrete and the imagined, the physical world and the world of spirit. In this collection her poems achieve mastery, a seamless shape-shifting of consciousness, another dimension of place where the fox, the great maple and the woman who “wakes with a bird in her belly” all exist in the same tangible realm with equal impact. This is magnificent work.
—Barbaria Maria, author of Crossing Time and Palace Boulevard
What others are saying about The Place We Become:
The Place We Become is indeed all about becoming. In Carolyn Locke’s poems transformation can occur through travel to foreign places—those “brief migrations into the world of the other”—or by deep attention to the sacredness of the natural world, where an overnight rainfall becomes “a torrential blessing we’ve forgotten to pray for.” Locke’s poems trace the process by which people slip identity and ego, and enter into a larger space. She doesn’t ignore what’s broken, but balances it with images of a greater whole. These are poems that carry much wisdom and beauty. —BETSY SHOLL, Maine Poet Laureate (2006-2011) and author of eight collections of poetry, most recently, Otherwise Unseeable.
Carolyn Locke’s The Place We Become is a gracefully layered collection of poems. One extended, perfectly integrated breath filled with movement. The rhythm between exactness of location and the gradual, limitless expansion of experience. Through the window, out in the field, close to home, or far away—the poet, the image, the seer and the seen, are one. Amongst the exquisite precision, form, and detail, there’s plenty of room for the reader. This book is an invitation to journey. Be prepared to follow because “Sometimes it’s hard to stop yourself/from letting go/of whatever anchors you.” —BARBARA MARIA, author of Crossing Time and Palace Boulevard
Carolyn Locke’s well-practiced poetic hand transports us in this book to places where the external world—from Maine to Morocco to China and elsewhere—integrates with the internal world—of the self, relatives, friends, colleagues, and others. Every person and event along the way is a corner of space-time all its own, filled with surprise, curiosity, and deeply human tensions carefully observed and meticulously recorded. Her poetry is a prism of the lights and shades of being here. —DANA WILDE, author of Nebulae and On the Other End of the Driveway
For a full review of the book:
What others are saying about Always this Falling:
“Carolyn Locke’s poems are crystal clear, and while they forage a kind of territory that has something to do with nature and silence and the human being in all of this, she is also a poet of rare intelligence when it comes to writing about relationships. Her poems make me serene.They are as clear as water and as sturdy as pre-war apartment buildings on Riverside Drive.” —Michael Klein, author of 1990, Track Conditions, and The End of Being Known
“Carolyn’s sensory details can stop me cold in my tracks.” —Nora Mitchell, author of Your Skin Is a Country and Proofreading the Histories
“In Always This Falling, Carolyn Locke trains her clear gaze at the earth and the body: muscle and flesh, flower and root. Her questing spirit interrogates everything, unearthing the rich life beneath what we can see and taste. She celebrates our seasons of abundance and loss––what we risk and what we reap. Above all, these lucid, truthful poems shine with love.” —Joan Larkin, author of My Body: New and Selected Poems, Cold River, A Long Sound, and Housework
What others are saying about Not One Thing:
In a beautifully woven mix of poetry, prose, and photographs, Carolyn Locke shares a “diary of her heart,” a record of a journey through northern Japan following in the footsteps of the haiku poet Basho and the waka poet Saigyo who traveled before him. As she and her companions walk the paths generations of Japanese poets walked, she realizes that “wandering is like dance” and that what each contributes becomes part of “the choreography of our shared journey.” Not One Thing welcomes readers into the dance with vivid description and haunting poetry and encourages them to contribute their own choreography as they travel along in imagination. —Laurel Rasplica Rodd, Professor of Japanese and author of Nichiren: A Biography and Kokinshu: A Collection of Poems Ancient and Modern
Carolyn Locke went on a magical journey in Japan, and we are privileged to travel with her in this book. Her encounters along the way, with both literary giants on the page and present-day Japanese in person, are recreated here in photographs, diary entries, and poems. Retracing the haiku poet Basho’s 1689 “road to the deep north,” she becomes an observer of and participant in Japan’s venerable religious, artistic, and literary traditions; a meditator on nature and her own inner life; and a reader and a writer of breathtakingly lovely poetry. At the end of the journey, like Carolyn, I am ready to start again at the beginning. —Susan Schmidt, Executive Director of the American Association of Teachers of Japanese