COMING OUT OF NOWHERE, Alaska Homestead Poems by Linda Schandelmeier
I’m holding this book in my hands. I waited years to read the poems and stare into the photographs of Linda’s early years on her family’s homestead, now buried below the pavement of city streets, businesses and different families, a different era. But through these poems, not forgotten.
Linda writes, “The poems in this book are based on my memories and experiences growing up on this homestead. Because poems are not journalist endeavors, they often tell the “truth” in a way that may not be straightforward… (They) sometimes take a circuitous route to arrive at a deeper truth.”
And arrive, they do.
If you are interested in words, in poems, in sharing an experience of Alaska that is becoming more rare and precious with each season, then pick up a copy and lose yourself in these pages.
From the title poem, “Coming out of Nowhere”
The earth near our place
It rocked us—
became our skin.
House doors opened,
spilled us out,
we disapeared into trees—
they clothed us
in delirious green.
And these lines, from “Momma Said” a different part of the homestead experience:
Momma said, leave
when you turn eighteen—
I can’t own you then.
You’ll come back
But right now
I control you.
From the University of Alaska Press:
Linda Schandelmeier was raised on a family homestead six miles south of the fledgling town of Anchorage, Alaska in the 1950s and ’60s. But hers is not a typical homestead story. In this book, part poetic memoir and part historical document, a young girl comes of age in a family fractured by divorce and abuse. Schandelmeier does not shy away from these details of her family history, but she also recognizes her childhood as one that was unique and nurturing, and many of her poems celebrate homestead life. Her words hint at her way of surviving and even transcending the remoteness by suggesting a deeper level of human experience beyond the daily grind of homestead life; a place in which the trees and mountains are almost members of the family. These are poems grounded in the wilds that shimmer with a mythic quality. Schandelmeier’s vivid descriptions of homesteading will draw in readers from all types of lives.
Linda Schandelmeier is the author of Listening Hard Among the Birches. Her poems have appeared in Alaska Quarterly Review, the Northern Review, Cirque, Ice Floe, and Connecticut River Review, among others. She was Artist in Residence at Denali National Park in 2012.