California Burning, by Jennifer Handy-Print Books-Bottlecap Press

California Burning, by Jennifer Handy

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Jennifer Handy
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Poetry, chapbook, 32 pages, from Bottlecap Features.

California is burning! From the eerie beauty to the sheer terror, experience the California wildfires in poetry. From the enormous Dixie Fire, whose smoke spread across the country, to the tiny fire just over the hill, how can you tell if you’re in danger, if you and your family are about to burn?

Using the extended metaphor of birth, the poems cover the fire’s origins, modern fire-fighting methods, environmental concerns, and the effects of the fires on the land, the wildlife, and the people, who live scattered far from one another in one of the most sparsely populated regions in the United States.

The poems capture both the devastation and the surreal, unearthly quality of wildfires, which are portrayed as being, simultaneously, part of nature and outside it. Have you ever seen a wildfire sunset? Heard every bird go silent? Did you know that animals too can scream?

Special attention is given to those people who, even today, eke out a precarious existence in the rural landscape of Northern California, where they homestead, living out of ramshackle cabins and rundown buses, people with very little who stand to lose everything they have.

The poetry is unflinching in its portrayal of nature and never sentimental, yet it could move the hardest heart.

Jennifer Handy explores sexuality, psychological trauma, mental illness, homelessness, severed family relationships, and environmental issues through fiction and poetry. Her fiction has been published in A Plate of Pandemic and MAI: Feminism & Visual Culture, and is forthcoming in Bridge Eight. Her poetry is forthcoming in the Nathaniel Hawthorne Review.