The Holding Hours

University of Washington Press 2015
Pacific Northwest Poetry Series

Emotion, raw and unadorned, is woven through the poems of Christianne Balk’s The Holding Hours. Part I explores the subtle and surprising transformations that come from caring for her young daughter. Insights unfold in metaphor and persona below the surface of an exquisitely observed life.

Gazing through the lens of other lives challenged by disability and illness, including those of John Muir and the 16th-century Saint Germaine Cousin, these poems place personal experience in the context of pastoral poetic traditions, disability studies, and the history of political disruption.

Balk anchors these meditations within the landscape of the Pacific Northwest. She examines her (and our) relationships with nature—the moon snail, the azalea, snow geese, the dog rose—using the precise and unsentimental language of a trained naturalist. The sounds and images evoked reveal a stunning artistry—a mediation between self and the world and a celebration of the beauty and fragility of life and the anticipation of rebirth.