"From the opening poem and on through this glorious book, Nadia Colburn strikes the difficult balance between celebrating the splendor of the world we inhabit and acknowledging the grief and devastation that none of us can escape. As much a book of love songs as a book of elegies, I Say the Sky is a heart opening and mind sharpening collection."

~Camille T. Dungy, author of Soil: The Story of a Black Mother's Garden

I SAY THE SKY is now available in the US through Amazon, The University Press of Kentucky, and coming soon wherever books are sold. It will also be coming soon for purchase outside of the US.


"In poems at once profound and accessible, Nadia Colburn finds splendor and astonishment in a natural world—and a human world—that is deeply troubled yet still majestically beautiful. Both elegy and celebration, I Say the Sky addresses some of the most challenging aspects of human existence, from childhood trauma to environmental devastation, and discovers, in unexpected and clear-sighted ways, wisdom, wonder, and peace.

Colburn's brilliant second book charts a journey to meet the self. From girlhood to parenthood, loss to discovery, in poems that sing, the book explores how meaning is made. Claiming the female voice from silence, the poems find their grounding in the body and achieve rootedness and hope.

I Say the Sky is a meditative and ultimately inspiring book that will be savored by seasoned readers as well as those new to poetry."

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In this video, Nadia discusses I Say the Sky and reads her poem, "The End of History," which inspired the book's title. 

 This video is an excerpt from Nadia's Book Launch Event with Writers.com on the Book's Publication Day.


Praise for the Book and Reviews:

Colburn connects words to earth, body to family, and family to nature. Here, language is sacred; uttering a word, composing a line, writing a stanza is a prayer of joy even if the context is loss; even loss can be an occasion to be grateful. Colburn has given poetry a breath that revives it, that urges others to see deeper and reclaim their humanity.

~Jimmy Santiago Baca, author of A Place to Stand


Nadia Colburn's book of poems, I Say the Sky, describes a world both realistic and beautiful. Colburn writes clear and accessible lines that ring of thought amid action; of a mind and body charged to recognize and speak of more things than they knew possible outside of the self but from a self. Can the self be a thing, albeit a beautiful thing, that grows and does not simply strive or perfect? I am struck by how much these poems surprised me and led me to think and re-think, not with an end in mind, but with a world in mind. It's a heartening and strengthening collection, not sentimental in the least, which still manages, as some say of good poetry, "to help us live our lives." I Say the Sky will be a book read toward a meditative, calming effect, in which gratitude, sorrow, and surprise are interwoven, as they surely must be in actual readers' lives. I am grateful for this work and for the gift of these poems.

~Lisa Williams, author of Gazelle in the House and University of Kentucky New Poetry and Prose series editor


Nadia Colburn's book I Say the Sky is made of timely and urgent questions. "What is missing? In the house of my life." With skillful metacognition Colburn approaches the inexpressible, explores ephemerality, trauma, ecological devastation, and how everything connects to the quotidian. These poems are wonderfully awake to our unspeakable lives. She writes: "I want so badly to live sometimes I forget / that I am alive." In this collection Colburn couples gravity with gratitude and creates a bright infusion of healing and regeneration.

~Laynie Browne, author of Translation of the Lilies Back into Lists


In I Say the Sky, the poet sees our world with its obvious need of repair and our inability to agree on the name of that repair. In that space she goes after the crystalline beauty of delivering the lyric from inside the human heart as it presses its rhythm against the rhythm of our world, naming the precious things only a poet who values the present moment can know. What a wonderful collection Colburn has wrought.

~Afaa M. Weaver, Kingsley Tufts Award Winner and author of A Fire in the Hills


The poems in I Say the Sky are both a hymn to what's lost and a hymnal for how to carry on. "We must do something," Nadia Colburn writes, and that writing is part of the something––as is the cataloguing both of diminishment and plenty. "Teach me to pray anywhere," she says, guiding us to look for transcendence not only in "the cardinals singing at first dawn,/but also in the concrete parking lot/ of the Everett Mall."

~Andrea Cohen, author of The Sorrow Apartments


I Say the Sky distills ordinary passing moments of a world made striking, made memorable. But as the poet disperses such moments into the poems, that world is made strange, made unsayable. Whatever has been named vanishes into something else; whatever has been exiled returns on the next horizon: next line, next verse, next poem. In Colburn's poetics, a pinpoint of memory foreshadows an unshakable sense of dislocation, the strangeness of inhabiting a body and a world in which we can never be just one thing. All the while the ineffable, even the unbearable, runs to meet joy. Reading these poems, certain load-bearing words—stones, hands, a voice, the sky, to name a few—orchestrate a controlled music that surprises us and sends us back to read them again, and again. What more could one ask of poetry?

~Annie G. Rogers, Professor of Psychology and author of The Unsayable: The Hidden Language of Trauma


Nadia Colburn has written a marvelous book of poetry that will appeal to poetry lovers everywhere. These poems speak to the human condition and its transitions and transformations, making meaning of life's difficulties and showing us how to turn them into celebrations. I recommend their imagery, beauty, and powerful metaphors to everyone.

~Lewis Mehls Madrona, M.D. author of Coyote Medicine


Colburn connects words to earth, body to family, and family to nature. Here, language is sacred; uttering a word, composing a line, writing a stanza is a prayer of joy even if the context is loss; even loss can be an occasion to be grateful. Colburn has given poetry a breath that revives it, that urges others to see deeper and reclaim their humanity.

~Jimmy Santiago Baca, author of A Place to Stand


The tender, fierce poems that populate I Say Sky are poems that vow to be present: 'This is not a poem about escape / The great transition is not an escape / but a turn in which we meet the self / we may not want to meet.' These great transitions are momentous—birth and death—but they also exist in hours of quotidian caregiving that hum with meaning. Cutting carrots, reading a book aloud to a child, planting seeds, and even sitting in silent stillness demand the body's attention. The permeable, powerful female body, the (un)sung hero of this book, knows the generosity of speech, of gesture, of touch, of saying in all its bodily forms. In an act of communion with the world, I Say Sky 'translates the spruce forest of [the] heart,' for all whose ears are open

~Sasha Steensen, author of Everything Awake


These are sharply-focused lyric meditations that memorably dramatize the simplicity and anguished complexity of the world and the heart that fully inhabits it.

~Gregory Orr, author of The Last Love Poem I Will Ever Write and Poetry as Survival


From the opening poem and on through this glorious book, Nadia Colburn strikes the difficult balance between celebrating the splendor of the world we inhabit and acknowledging the grief and devastation that none of us can escape. As much a book of love songs as a book of elegies, I Say the Sky is a heart opening and mind sharpening collection.

~Camille T. Dungy, author of Soil: The Story of a Black Mother's Garden

Read some poems from I Say the Sky

Upflying

 

Whole flocks of geese in my childhood honking their way

North—


The streets dirty with pigeons—


The sky blackened by starlings, each small, pointed wing

so close to another’s it was just a blur—


Now, three billion birds are missing.


We wake to so many forms of emptiness;

so much loss greets us in our sleep.


In my childhood, I thought the world I’d entered

would be the one I’d exit.


In the poplar, one grackle whistles,

not to me.

Teach Me


how to pray anywhere.

Teach me that you live

not only in the open field,

the cardinals singing at first dawn,

but also in the concrete parking lot

of the Everett Mall, in the flashing lights of Old Navy,

in the wires crossing the open expanse

above me.


The cars speed down the highway.

Their tires spin, spin.

There is so much

work to do. Dark oil

flows over the whole land. Teach me

how to praise your whole body.


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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Nadia Colburn

I hold a Ph.D. in English from Columbia University, and a B.A. from Harvard, am  certified Kundalini yoga teacher and an Order of Interbeing aspirant in Thich Nhat Hanh’s Plum Village Tradition.

And my poetry and prose has been published in more than 80 national magazines, in such places as The New Yorker, American Poetry Review, Kenyon Review, Conjunctions, Spirituality & Health, and elsewhere. 

My work explores questions of trauma and healing, silence and voice—on the personal, social and global levels.  I work with women (and some men) to help them uncover the true power of their own creative voices. 

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