Surfacing

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“To read the poems of Amber Ridenour Walker is to witness the moment when a tough thing becomes vulnerable, like watching James Coburn cry. I read this book, then I read it again. What I loved about it at first, I still love. And that’s the one true measure, isn’t it? “The snow is on the ground. But / then, the snow was always on the ground.” In a world full of books – most of them unread or unrereadable – this is one you’ll keep. Surfacing is the metaphor that isn’t, a simile that cannot refer elsewhere because it is always within you: it’s the ‘you’ you were, some tiny kernel of which still resides like mercury in the brain. As you read, you mumble the lines beneath your breath. Their enunciation is that which makes angels of us all, and reminds us of what we’ve always known: that the devil was the first angel.”

– Chris Pusateri, Common Time

“The poems of Amber Ridenour Walker dive headlong into moments of darkness and lust, with a looming backdrop of heartbreak. Her razor-sharp lines and visceral images display “the rip of language/flung like flags” while always speeding one step ahead of you, pulling your brain along on her powerful, invisible threads.” —Kevin Sampsell, I Made an Accident and This Is Between Us

Surfacing opens with a lake that swallows children, a lake as ellipsis, as penumbra. Most children do not survive, but some do, the book’s speaker does but not easily. Perhaps it is this image, of the child on a school bus that plunges into a lake, that immediately transforms one’s thinking about teenagers, about oneself as a teenager. These poems are never sentimental, but they are gracious. The frequent use of couplets, for me, is a great tenderness, a coupling one’s child self requires to surface from out of the shadow of self and lineage.” – J’Lyn Chapman, To Limn/Lying In

“Evoking the forms of water, of breath, of glass, of bone, Amber Ridenour Walker gives us meanings that come to the surface as light hits the bottom. A delicate balance between the ephemeral and the constant: A powerful blend of inescapable beauty and pain that may give rise to each other, expressed through poetry at its best. These poems surprise us, move us, and take new forms through the exploration of their environment and their own medium.” -Tania Bies, View From the Moon, Free Lines Press editor/publisher