Praise for Accommodations
Concrete Wolf Chapbook Award, 2019
“This collection starts off with an ache that pulls a reader in uncontrollably with sorrow and beauty. It is a tremendous manuscript that begs to be read over and over. Organic in the purest sense. Anyone encountering these poems will be stunned.”
— Amy MacLennan, Chapbook Award Judge, author of The Body, A Tree
“The consciousness that reigns in these poems is hurricane-proof, bullet-proof, heartache-proof. And, lucky for us, this is the consciousness of our tour guide throughout this often heart-breaking volume. Again and again, with a grace and acceptance that reminds us of the strength of human beings, these poems examine the often-blurred line between what will happen in our lives – and what we can make happen. Carey’s poetic breath becomes the reader’s life-breath in this collection – a parity that only the best of poems can offer.”
— M.B. McLatchey, author of The Lame God (see full review below)
“Sarah Carey makes many gracious accommodations to family, to the inevitable losses in an ordinary life, and to the idea of home in all its human dimensions in this intelligent, sensitive, and generous collection. She meditates on “the long valediction” of a fully lived life and comes to artful terms with the repercussions of love and mortality in poems that ring true and resonate. Breathe the slow wind, she writes, another storm is always coming. We know it in our bones, and we see it again and again in these lovely measures.”
— Sidney Wade, author of Bird Book and Straits & Narrows
Full review of Accommodations
(by M.B. McLatchey, Author of The Lame God)
“In his poetry collection, District and Circle, the late Seamus Heaney proclaims, “If self is a location, so is love.” In Sarah Carey’s new collection of poems, Accommodations, self is indeed location. The location is often Florida’s vulnerable and hurricane-prone Panhandle and the self is its ever-shifting terrain. Displacement, reconciliation, heartache, and resilience. Plotted against apparently ordinary scenes, these anything-but-ordinary emotions take root in these poems – and take root in our consciousnesses – until we, like the speaker in these quiet verses, must make peace with a universe that relentlessly tests us. If in Carey’s poem “Ordinary Life” a “storm displaces/ what we’ve earned in native soil” then in “First Day of Hurricane Season” we regain hope in humankind through a resolve and a frank face-off between nature and man:
Breaking news reports midnight landfall,
but at sunset, enthralled, we linger.
Ocean sediments will stay roiled
for weeks before they settle,
but I hit bottom,
and learned acceptance, long ago.
The consciousness that reigns in these poems is hurricane-proof, bullet-proof, heartache-proof. And, lucky for us, this is the consciousness of our tour guide throughout this often heart-breaking volume. Again and again, with a grace and acceptance that reminds us of the strength of human beings, these poems examine the often-blurred line between what will happen in our lives – and what we can make happen. Our human limits against nature and our tragi-comical efforts in human relationships are the topic in this collection.
In “Questions for the Plumber During Remodeling” Carey’s characteristic mastery of the understatement when examining the complexity of marriage spares us from sentimentality or over-analysis.
[we] tore down walls in each abode,
then second-guessed our openness.
Similarly, in “Our Last House” Carey’s distaste for hyperbole reminds us of the power of plain speech in poetry:
We keep dusting and scrubbing,
now and then look up, admire our views,
weigh how much to disclose
Ultimately, as in one of the book’s later poems, we are grateful not only for this clear-eyed collection of verses, but also for the sustenance that it gives us in the pilgrimage that is our lives.
My pilgrim heart possessed, my face awash
with spray, I close my eyes, draw breath
Carey’s poetic breath becomes the reader’s life-breath in this collection – a parity that only the best of poems can offer.”
Praise for the Heart Contracts
(Finishing Line Press, 2016)
“Every one of Sarah Carey’s poems is taut, tense, terse, tough. And close to tiny: most are within a line or two of half a page. In that sense, they’re like those little candles some people put around their houses, lighting up everything that’s true and beautiful and sometimes scary about domestic life. Oh, and one more thing about these poems: they’re terrific.”
— David Kirby, Robert O. Lawton Distinguished Professor of English at Florida State University and author of more than two dozen volumes of criticism, essays, children’s literature, pedagogy, and poetry; National Book Award finalist
“Each syllable of these heart contracts is a muted note, so that losses blend worlds alive in the author, as: It hit me hard when I heard / of the murder. (“No Visible Scars”) or I move it from its temporary resting place, / consoled to see the evening light reflect. (“The Gift”) and When I bought him / my fears disappeared, my sleep returned. (“Max”). These notes are multi-storied, like every home: Mother, my Hestia, my sacrifice / is for whatever you cultivate in me: / what I had to gut to get / to . . . (“My First Steps”). North Florida, Utah, Alaska—they could be anyplace. These poems deserve discerning readers to treasure them.”
— Van K. Brock, author of several collections of poems, former professor of English and co-director of the creative writing program at Florida State University; co-founder of The Southeast Review (then Sundog), International Quarterly and Anhinga Press
“Here is poetry that doesn’t babble but waits until it knows exactly what it wants to say then, without waste, says it. Here too is a poet who knows how to order a collection so that it becomes a single, resonant, piece of music. We all enter into contracts with our hearts. Ms. Carey, by sharing hers with us, has given us a gift worth having.”
— Lola Haskins’ poetry has appeared in The Atlantic, the London Review of Books, The New York Quarterly, Georgia Review, Prairie Schooner, and elsewhere. She is the author of 11 collections of poems and many other works.