My new book of poetry, "An Unwavering Horizon," published by Finishing Line Press is now available for pre-order through March 6, with printed books going out May 1! Pre-sales help determine the final print run & I greatly appreciate your advance purchases! Order here: https://www.finishinglinepress.com/product/an-unwavering-horizon-by-gina-williams/
“Williams channels the hardships of existence through a lightning voice of empathy and illumination—pure and crisp and sure of its subjects. The rough love of family, the fleeting nature of memory, the winding road of illness, the harsh screams of war, the sorrow of lost connection, and the ever-eroding hope for a better world. An Unwavering Horizon swells with compassion, pulses with lovely imagery, and fights to make sense of all that we'll never know."
--Jonathan Starke, founding editor of Palooka and author of You've Got Something Coming
“Gina Williams is a powerfully observant poet whose work unfolds a world of emotion from the often-overlooked minutiae of everyday existence. An Unwavering Horizon is a finely crafted collection of many different strands that readers will delight in returning to again and again.”
–Dr. Darren Richard Carlaw, Editor, StepAway Magazine
“In An Unwavering Horizon Gina Williams gives us a look at family and moments of intimacy and discovery: Granny watered the crumbling / red clay dirt. . . . She glances / out toward the empty road, / then sets her jaw, thin lips / an unwavering horizon. But this ‘horizon’ expands the view: For the AIDS babies, he explains, softly, /needles never pausing.
With it comes the innocent wisdom of a child: he looks toward the altar— /points at the crucified christ /as if seeing it for the first time /and screams,‘mommy! look! /get that man down. A collection for the thinker: “a man out there a drift . . . / . . . / Jesus nowhere to be found.” In this pensive collection, the reader will find reason to relate and to question.”
–Robert L. Giron, Editor in Chief, Gival Press, ArLiJo
Join my Newsletter for publishing updates, readings, all things literary, etc.!
Gina Williams is a journalist, photographer, former firefighter, and gardener. She’s a Pacific Northwest native and can often be found rambling in the Oregon Outback, volunteering at the community garden, or on assignment in a far-flung location. She lives and creates near Portland, Oregon. Williams is a Pushcart Prize nominee for poetry and founder of Plein Air Poetry Northwest, a nonprofit organization supporting literary arts and environmental activism. Her writing and visual art have been featured most recently by River Teeth, Okey-Panky, Carve, The Sun, Fugue, Palooka, Boiler Journal, Whidbey Art Gallery, Black Box Gallery, and Great Weather for Media, among others. Her full-length poetry collection, "An Unwavering Horizon" published by Finishing Line Press, is now available for pre-order and will be distributed in May 2020.
Sample Poems from "An Unwavering Horizon"
All pre-sale orders will receive a complimentary limited edition broadsheet (signed, numbered & printed on fine-art paper) celebrating a poem included in this collection.
The first one is "Just For Today," originally published by Snail Mail Review. Additional broadsheets to come!
Burial at Sea
A moody trout is a dead trout,
my grandfather said, his lower lip stuffed
with a wad of wintergreen chew.
Mist flowed across the water as he pulled
the oars gently. I watched every move, took
in every word from my seat atop the
orange boat cushion, feet small
and squirming in the gum boots
chosen from a jumble in Grandpa’s shed.
Years later, I recalled those sepia days, all
golden alder leaf spin and reel, fisher philosopher,
cold blue sky, knit cap hug, and hot
sweet thermos tea with a bittersweet backdrop
of Bach’s cello suites, so achingly perfect, floating
them along. Thing is, a sullen fish just don’t last long,
he’d announce, then spit tar like a perturbed
grasshopper over the bow. Good for us.
Winter seeped in slowly, water beings languishing
in the bracken backwater of lily pads. Too depressed
not to bite, too anemic to fight. Now, I knew,
it wasn’t the fish’s fault. In faded flannel,
bloated from the bottle, my mother forgot my name.
My father, alone and far away, too slow to run,
lost to a sniper’s bullet. Winter does these
things, to fish and men.
A moody trout
is a dead trout is a lost soul is a wandering fool
is a sinking boat. Grandpa taught me to bait the hook,
set the rod, dip the net, break the neck, slit the belly,
peel the guts, turn the boat toward the cove and wait,
wait in the shadows, wait it out.
*Originally published by Mount Hope
Just an Ordinary Tuesday on Earth
I recall a moment around noon,
a heavy man sighing inside the elevator going up.
Why, WHY? he said, into a tiny microphone
held unsteadily near downturned lips.
Because I love you, I said, but not to him, to you.
To him, I said, silently, I’m sorry.
And the sun came out today dispelling the gloom,
glinting off gold teeth and silver-tipped canes and spokes,
all kinds of spokes—cartwheeled, bicycle-tired,
wheel chaired & otherwise, shiny and loud
—and the earth tilted and spun and shouted.
A woman on the corner screamed,
Don’t you tell me what to do! A man
selling Himalayan dumplings in the square whispered,
Namaste, Namaste. A yellow crane lowered steel beams
into an empty block as sunbeams streamed and slanted
between layers of brick and illuminated
the iridescence of intimate pairings of pigeons dining on crumbs scattered between park benches.
Now, I curl into a chair on the porch
as the sun begins to set. Children are striking out
at the ball park. I hear them laugh
as their parents cry out, frantic.
Chimes sway and gong above the fray,
repeating the low harmony of what was once
a well-tuned planet, maybe still is for a short while yet,
a song of songs. Birds call out, preparing to roost,
twittering and trilling, and finally
a flock of crows crash-lands, cawing,
in a nearby cedar.
After a supper of catfish and fried corn we dance
in the kitchen as the day dims,
finally curl together like pairing snakes,
all skin and heat and tail, intertwined,
tethered by tenderness, windows flung open,
the scent of green seeping in,
unbearable and light, lighter than air.
Yes, yes, the sun,
that gorgeous, flaring, insanely jealous
and flamboyant orb;
that brave and beautiful star,
hovering improbably and perfectly close
and impossibly, exquisitely distant,
came out today.
I went to the museum lecture
to learn something new. The photographer
spoke of his travels to Turkey
with stacks of pinhole cameras
to help the children of Syrian refugees
make something beautiful.
You should too, he said.
Those who say can’t mean won’t.
The whole world is on fire.
Around the corner
a man on the sidewalk convulsed in his
sleeping bag. A puckered old woman
in polka dot pants
unlocked her suitcase from the bike rack
in front of the city library.
A blond boy with a begging sign
played his cello so fiercely
the strings curled and snapped in the wind
like cables of a collapsing rope bridge.
The heater was left on
and I sweltered in the night,
tossed in a sticky web of midnight
daydreams, took a pill,
dreamed at last of killer waves
and angry relatives.
Now the morning news tells me
a bomb went off
at a bus stop someplace in the far east.
Another plane plunged into the sea.
Those children in Syria are dying from the cold
before the bullets can kill them.
The bus was late. I forgot my lunch
on the counter at home. The coffee pot
at the office sparked and smoked.
I cut my finger on the staple remover. My
spine bends a little further to the left each day.
I’m unprepared for fire or weather.
I bought a sandwich,
carried it around, handed it to a man in rags
shivering on the corner,
flames licking at my boots
as I walked away.
*Originally published by Stepaway Magazine and ArLiJo
Pushcart Prize nomination by Stepaway Magazine
**"An Unwavering Horizon" cover art designed by Gina Williams. All graphics and images here copyright Gina Williams unless otherwise noted.