by Irène Mathieu
$16.00 | Jan 2017
Winner of the 2016 Bob Kaufman Prize, selected by Megan Kaminski
Orogeny buries deep into rock and soil, silence and speech, into the pulse of what connects us as mothers, sisters, lovers, and ghosts—the quest for home and for a language that can account for both what might become and what has been lost. Searching ecologies, history, and embodied experience, Irène Mathieu’s lyric voice pieces together a world, which is at once our own and a map of possibility, a “fetal dream of ourselves, a sea of curled and floating ideas.”
—Megan Kaminski, author of Deep City, judge of the 2016 Bob Kaufman Book Prize
In orogeny, wisewoman and mythkeeper Irène Mathieu fiercely erects a “pharmacy of noises,” a mountain of love poems to what it means to be precariously human, an awakening fist armed with the might of dreams against the things that plague the earth and us: murder, hate, wars, borders. This collection is a hymn for the puzzling anatomy of survival, the evolution of rage, and the healing prism of wanderlust. These poems serve as “proper rites” against the violence of language that accompanies what has become the world’s textbook physical ruthlessness. Mathieu penetrates the dust and fragments of our earthly existence—all that’s been lost and left behind—and sings it back together. I could “drink these poems” with their old eyes for an eternity, and they would be enuf, all I need.
—Yolanda Wisher, author of Monk Eats an Afro, Poet Laureate of Philadelphia 2016-17
It’s apt that one of the central images of orogeny is that of Pangaea because Irène Mathieu broke me, over & over & over & infinite. Orogeny takes its reader across many different histories–of family, of continents, of violences, of sciences, of dirts, of fears, of soils, of loves–and every one is bigger than the last. It asks its reader, “what do I deserve?” and while the reader stares at it in amazement it answers “everything inside the moon.” In an existence as fractured as this one, orogeny is not just the myth that we need; it’s the then (& now & future) that we deserve.
– Mark Cugini, author of I’m Just Happy to Be Here, managing books editor, Big Lucks Books
About the Author
Irène Mathieu is a pediatrician, writer, and public health researcher who has lived and worked in the United States, the Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Peru, and elsewhere. She has been a Pushcart Prize nominee, a Callaloo fellow, and a Fulbright scholar. Irène is the author of the poetry chapbook the galaxy of origins (dancing girl press, 2014). She holds a BA in International Relations from the College of William & Mary and a MD from Vanderbilt University.