There's a rumor making the rounds that poetry, alas, is dead--I know of no better way to refute that idiocy than to immerse yourself in these lyric stanzas, these deftly-crafted narrative moments that unreel like snippets of cinema. June Saraceno has once again infused the literary landscape with a necessary breath; this long-awaited volume couldn't come at a better time.
---Patricia Smith author of Shoulda Been Jimi Savannah, winner of the Academy of American Poets’ Lenore Marshall Prize in Poetry 2013.
Saraceno writes, “A blue and white porcelain shoe / conjures my grandmother,” and her poems, filled with images both natural and human-made, both in splendor as well as in decomposition, seethe with the heat of the liminal, the warm breath of the lost, as well as the slant shine of what has been remade. Elegiac at times, they also ring with hopefulness, as if the speaker has thrown herself onto “the back of something that breaks from the dark / into a gallop, / and head[s] out heedless on the path to daylight.” These poems are both artifact and art in their quiet, soulful courageousness.
--- Laura McCullough author of Rigger Death and Hoist Another and Panic, winner of the Kinereth Gensler Award.
June Saraceno's Of Dirt and Tar explores and illuminates interior and exterior worlds, as we'll as the temporal landscape of generations, as Alice might walk from one world into another; Saraceno guides us on the journey, poem by poem, with a deft touch, her pen equally comfortable in free verse as it is in the sonnet or villanelle. I promise you: this book is just as good at 30,000 feet over the Atlantic seaboard as it is in a rocking chair on the back porch of a moonlit home in the woods.
---Brian Turner author of Phantom Noise and Here, Bullet, winner of the Poets’ Prize.
Link to April Michelle Bratton's review of Dirt and Tar in Up the Staircase Quarterly:
Altars of Ordinary Light, in part, revives powerful memories of a coastal childhood with imagery as sharp as the scent of low tide in a salt marsh. June Sylvester Saraceno focuses a subject, adjusts the light and angle until it reveals what we have been too busy to see -- the eloquence and sanctity of the everyday. These poems nicely balance light and dark, humor and sorrow. In "Scars," she writes: "My body is a book / I reread the lines to find/ the fierce allegory of old adventures." Most of these poems have an urgency, and they compel as adventures do. Altars of Ordinary Light is an impressive debut.
-- Peter Makuck, author of Breaking and Entering, Off Season in the Promised land, Sunken Lightship, Where We Live, and Against Distance.
The title Altars of Ordinary Light is apropos for a book that seeks to shed light on ordinary living -- childhood, family, marriage, womanhood. Saraceno's verse is accessible, yet filled with vivid imagery. Each poem begs to be reread to gain understanding of not only the poet but the reader.
-- Ellen Hopkins, author of Crank, Burned, Impulse, Identical, Tricks, Fallout and more.
In Altars of Ordinary Light June Sylvester Saraceno opens the door to a childhood in a southern, Christian home. Then we see her leave, home first, then marriage, to travel to France, Germany, Vancouver: waiting, waiting. Home again, she hears "You just have to stop thinking about yourself and dance." She does. These are honest, generous poems.
-- Lola Haskins, author of Not Feathers Yet: A Beginner's Guide to the Poetic Life, Solutions Beginning with A, and many collections of poetry including Desire Lines, New and SelectedPoems, Extrajera, The Rim Benders Hunger, Forty-Four Ambitions for the Piano and Castings.