Our Mother, The Mountain
by Alexander Shalom Joseph
Alexander Joseph has added great depth to poetry’s snowpack at 9,000 feet in these Indian Peaks. His cold meltings wildflower the thoughts of an earned solitude. He wears the mood of weathers like a favorite sweater. Joseph is the poet hermit opening his door to share the makings of daily bread and the blessings of mountain chores. When I put this book down I felt the same satisfaction as after a day of splitting wood. In these days of pandemic and war-threat stress these wonderful prose poems remind us to look up and within the healing of a life lived close to Mother Nature.
author of Kimono Mountain
In these, the strangest of times, Alexander Shalom Joseph has lashed himself to the mast, apertures jammed wide open and utterly permeable to our careening world. Like all true poets, he doesn’t distinguish between himself and what is unfolding around him, blurring internal and external landscapes. He takes in beauty and hope, horror and despair in equal measure, but what’s unique about Joseph’s work is that they often emulsify together in tenuous balance within the same poem. Though he cheats the scales towards beauty, in retreat on his mountain in Colorado, he’s acutely alert to the alarms we all increasingly hear. Far from the “hot, useless youth” he paints himself, Joseph offers a path forward by finding solace in his chosen sanctuary while squaring with our troubled world. But “poetry” demands more; it’s a bloodsport that must resonate, poke, transport and exhort with fresh eyes and singing heart. Joseph’s poetry swings like that.
author “Southern Paiute: a Portrait,”
and Director of the Zion Canyon Mesa Residency Center
Perhaps now it can be no other way: the poem that praises the founding of a house is also the elegy that mourns the same house’s loss. The paradox only makes sense when the act of home-making mimics the making of the world entire—the domestic orders a microcosmic imitation of that grand house, the universe. So it is for Alexander Shalom Joseph, whose calendrical Our Mother, The Mountain takes upon itself the minute minute-to-minute attentions that makes of light itself a companion, and makes of the air a scented introduction to visitors not yet known. One of those visitors is fire, that horse galloping every summer through the West. So it is we have a small book that honors the fire we live by—the sun—and knows other fires threaten opposite ends. The conflagration. By the light of one fire, we gather together a life; by the light of another, we gather every object of care we can hold, and then we run. I suspect many readers of this volume will be sure to gather it—a little good company by which to build the next house, and the next world.
author of Variations on Dawn and Dusk,
longlisted for 2019 National Book Award
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
It's said in the Talmud that there are three ways to be a good Jew: study, prayer and acts of loving kindness– Alexander Shalom Joseph thinks of his writing and work as a teacher as a mix of all three. Alexander is the author of three published books and many published individual poems and short stories. His published books include the story collection American Wasteland, published by owl canyon press, the novella, The Last of the Light, published by Orison Books and the poetry collection Our Mother the Mountain, published by Middle Creek Press. His Novels and Short Stories have been short listed/finalists/or semi-finalists for many literary prizes. Alexander has an MFA from The Jack Kerouac School, and an MA in English Education and lives in a cabin in rural Colorado.