Frail Union

By: Nylah Lyman


Praise for Frail Union:

“I find these poems very moving and admirable for their clarity of vision and deft use of language.”

—Jonathan Galassi, former president and publisher of Farrar, Straus and Giroux

“A stunning page-turner that stands out in the field of contemporary poetry as distinctly as a solitary sunflower rose from the middle / of the grass like a small yellow sun, Nylah Lyman’s Frail Union is a love letter to all women who secretly know their strength and quietly go about the work of manifesting their ambitions and desires.”

—Lissa Kiernan, author of Two Faint Lines in the Violet and The Whispering Wall

“Frail Union is a hands-in-the-soil search for a down-to-earth spirituality that can nourish the creative life and care for the physical world. Following both the farming season and the seasons of a relationship, these poems take their place beside those of Wendell Berry and Jane Kenyon. At the heart of this collection is a group of meditations that recount a young woman’s experience of a double lung transplant, culminating in ‘Surfacing,’ an urgent, uncanny, and absolutely moving work of art. This sequence is as powerful as anything you will read this year. And the poems that lead up to and follow that life-changing event present the resilient woman (a regular phoenix of spackle and blood) who can fashion a frail but lasting union of dirt and cloud, of nature and the imagination. A marvelous debut collection!”

—Theodore Deppe, author of Riverlight

In Frail Union, Nylah Lyman invites readers along to dig down into the center of ruin and have a look around. What does she show us? The gravid, the overripe, the stripped bare. The ditch garden. Gathered fruit rotting in a barrel. Rupture and sundering and the scarred intersection where two lives collided. She shows us so well what has been lost—the rural landscapes, certain histories, the body’s territories. These vivid, affecting poems deeply examine their own uncertainties: no way of knowing until the whole mess / is too far gone to save. But these poems also embody reclamation. The graft. The transplant. Growth. Transformation—beaver pond to meadow, old life to new, and hand over hand, I reclaim it. Unsparingly, with deep curiosity and compassion, Lyman wonders what would happen in the hushed lacuna / between this new life and the old? She stands, in this collection, on the fault line of my own life, / the threshold between what is slipping away / and what is possible in the future. These poems render complex dynamics of loss and reclamation with wisdom and grace, never settling on easy closures or happily-ever-after tropes. These poems know better.”

—Liz Ahl, author of Beating the Bounds


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