“Geode pulses with the blood of earth and stone.”
—The Boston Globe
Susan Barba’s new collection of poems resembles the spheroid stone of its name; when cracked open, a glittering and fascinating crystalline structure is revealed but the stony sphere she offers us, and the beauty within, is nothing less than the earth. With anguish and praise, in the spirit of both the ode and the elegy, Barba considers our time within the larger scale of deep-time. The species decreasing in number and disappeared and the possibility of human extinction haunt this book, while new generations and the possibility of renunciation of our old ways animate it. Here is the world, Barba reminds us, like a ball, in our hands.
Geode has been named a finalist for the 2020 New England Book Award for Poetry.
Critical Praise for Geode
“geode reminds us of how small, how vulnerable, and also how precious we are, in a vast world and in the vast stretches of time.” —Harvard Review (Full Review)
“This collection is ambitious in its breadth and vision—and deeply satisfying in its measurements.”
—Hyperallergic (Full Review)
“Through a lens of geography and geology, Barba looks at time, and our human efforts—sometimes futile, sometimes hopeful, sometimes cruel—to make sense of forces much larger and much older than ourselves.”
—The Boston Globe
“Susan Barba dramatizes ordinary life, riven with obligation, and a yearning for time, space, and an identity untethered to others’ claims. geode asserts that we might still claim purpose in our time on this spherical spinning rock.”
—Los Angeles Review of Books (Full Review)
“With Barba, there’s no flab: every word counts. Mixing clear-eyed minimalism with a passion for the physical world, Barba’s blesséd rage for natural order is the perfect music for our coming battles to understand and protect our world and heal the wounds inflicted by previous (and current) generations.”
—The Arts Fuse (Full Review)
Advance Praise for Geode
“geode is rich with shining interiors and tactile relationships, delicate human to delicate earth, small delusions of ownership against wider backdrops of loss and time. Poems acting as guides, helping us navigate and remember, create an intricate overlay of worlds, humans and trees.”
—Naomi Shihab Nye, New York Times Magazine
“With gorgeous incantations, with music that is as memorable as it is piercing, Susan Barba has given us the green-book, the earth-book, the book of justice, that shows us how endlessly, mindlessly ‘we are ticking away, all of us clocks.’ geode maps our planet’s ‘blue-green grid,’ shows us the earth itself, and our crime against it: ‘earth the story they’re breaking.’ Not a story exactly, perhaps, but a spell, a book of spells.
From the language of maps, from the language of the courtroom, from the language of the river, we are given one human’s testimony. And music, when it comes, is transformative: ‘Oak, whose girth / exceeds my reach / forever I am / at your feet, / looking up.’”
—Ilya Kaminsky, author of Deaf Republic and Dancing in Odessa
“Susan Barba’s geode is a rich, lyrical meditation on earth and its generative forces as well as its vulnerability to human desecration, violence, and ignorance. Her poems navigate places where natural history, human imagination and man-made endeavor meet. Barba’s voice is necessary in this tragic American moment where reactionary forces are at war with science, reason, and the planet.”
—Peter Balakian, author of Ozone Journal