Coming in 2023
How You Walk Alone in the Dark
by Erin Block
Paperback, 90 pp
We Crack Our Teeth Against Time
a review of Erin Block's How You Walk Alone in the Dark
by David Anthony Martin
A life of intimacy with nature and wildlife from a hunter who has a heart and knows the price of
taking wild game. In these poems Erin Block writes from her cabin in Colorado, from where she also hunts, fishes, forages, and gardens. When it comes to hunting, she honors the process— the hunt and the kill — “someone dying for another, in some way” and so in her hands the hunt remains a sacred human tradition tied to her place and the other beings she shares it
The poet knows this kinship; the life, struggle, fears, and challenges wild game face—as the very same mirrors her own. Not only “Find food, find water, / stay dry and warm if you can” but also finding that peace and clarity of mind that makes us “want to stick around / one day more.” How we struggle “to keep the weight of the world / so heavy on your bones” as we navigate the “long shadows we inherit / like land if you’re lucky; madness if not.” How we “crack our teeth against time” trying to make more memories, even in what may be humanity's last days, “for the people who will be left, / who’ll remember us trying to not let go.”
In How You Walk Alone in the Dark we see expressed the idea of being human as being on equal footing with being an other-than-human being. Interconnection. And there are other equalizations in these poems, such as when she says that she doesn’t arrange the bills in her wallet all facing the same way “because maybe it’s good for men to have to look at each other / face to face.” Children, relationships, people make appearances here as well, “I can tell which side you’re on / by how you walk alone in the dark.”
This collection holds reverence and wonder for the life lived close to nature, dependent on it. The life of a poet waiting for the first bear paw print in snow, putting out bird feeders each morning like calls to prayer, and anticipating Spring where she waits “to see ball cactus bloom pink.” As well, there is an expressed sadness at what is occurring in the natural world at this time in history, and the effects it has on those tied intimately to it, and what they are all facing together.
Erin Block lives in a cabin in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado and works for the University of Colorado Boulder Libraries. Her writing has been published in CutBank Literary Journal, The Rumpus, Guernica, and Gray's Sporting Journal, among others. She is the author of two non-fiction books, The View from Coal Creek (Whitefish Press, 2013) and By a Thread (Whitefish Press, 2016). How You Walk Alone in the Dark is her first collection of poetry.