A Forest Almost

by Liz Countryman

to be published November 2017 – poetry

[Buy at SPD]










About the Book

Moving from suburban spaces to the chaos of New York City and back again, the speaker of A Forest Almost delights and despairs in a feeling of instability and flux. Memories are stirred up and confronted by a weird and equivocal world of metaphor as the poems move among different angles of sight and moments in time. By turns wry and ecstatic, epistolary and in search of a missing listener, these poems impart the threat and excitement of breaching one’s own isolation.


Liz Countryman makes a charming sort of grace out of soul-searching—one part bemused, one part anxious, one part mischievous. To fall for such charm is to admit once and for all that only music will save us. I admit it. I love how fiercely this book believes in what is most private about us, our imaginations, and how it uses its musical power to transmit energy outward. That energy is so very strong, but capable too of the oddest, most bittersweet vulnerability at times. It moves, and moves, and moves.


In Countryman’s stark, startlingly direct objectivity, every clarity crumbles before our eyes into increasingly subjective approximation. It is the rare poet who has the courage to step into this quagmire and show her readers what we can’t help but recognize as achingly familiar. It is the rarest of poets who has the canniness, the skill to carry us with her to a deeper understanding of who we are. I’ve not read a book of poetry that so deftly penetrates the sham of fact, and its concomitant lies of safety and certitude. But, be warned: this is a book that will test your ethics—do you have the courage to allow yourself the shock of recognition that she offers? Simple statement has never before been so fiercely, brazenly, and at times even hilariously, unmasked as façade. While the text adheres closely to the tangents of intimate relationship, it is impossible not to see this work as a lens to hold up to all arenas of human behavior, if we have the bravery to do so. It is, I think, Countryman’s canny, contentious, richly idiosyncratic diction that lures me further and further into the “almost” that I realize indeed is a forest surrounding me. This realization, disruptively difficult as it is to swallow, has given me a new kind of nourishment that I hadn’t realized I’ve been so very hungry for.


About the Author

Liz Countryman‘s first book, A Forest Almost, was selected by Graham Foust as the winner of the 2016 Subito Press Poetry Prize and will be published by Subito in 2017. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Poetry, American Poetry Review, AGNI, The Kenyon Review, The Volta, Boston Review, The Offing, and elsewhere. She is the recipient of scholarships and fellowships from the Vermont Studio Center, the Bread Loaf Writers Conference, The Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, and the MacDowell Colony. A Forest Almost was a finalist for the Poetry Society of America’s Di Castagnola Award.

Countryman received her M.F.A. from the University of Maryland and her PhD from the University of Houston, where she served as poetry editor for Gulf Coast.She lives in Columbia, South Carolina, where she is Writer in Residence at the University of South Carolina and co-editor, with her husband Samuel Amadon, of the poetry journal Oversound.

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