This Meditation on the impact of human and ecological trauma explores the cost of survival for three generations of women living between empires. Writing from within the disappearing tallgrass prairie, Sarah Ens follows connections between the Russian Mennonite diaspora and the disrupted migratory patterns of grassland birds. Drawing on family history, eco-poetics, and the rich tradition of the Canadian long poem, Flyway migrates along pathways of geography and the heart to grapple with complexities of home.
About the author
Sarah Ens is a writer and editor based in Treaty 1 territory (Winnipeg, MB). Her poetry has appeared in Prairie Fire, Arc Poetry Magazine, Contemporary Verse 2, Poetry Is Dead, Room Magazine, and SAD Mag. Her debut collection of poetry, The World is Mostly Sky was shortlisted for the 2021 McNally Robinson Book of the Year Award. Flyway is her second book of poetry.
Excerpt: Flyway (by (author) Sarah Ens)
How do you unfold bones for flight?
malice uplifts you.
For now, hold
still & till all under.
They won't last,
your puny roots.
Learn to put your
self in the
in the vanishing,
the bright eyes,
the sky lurch.
Few poets have rendered the wrenching of war's dislocations with such intensity and beauty as Sarah Ens. Flyway is sorrow artfully spun into a lyric that mends as it quests, gathers, scatters, and laments. Her family's story of the all-too-common women's flight for survival emerges with intimacy and urgency. This book is a triumph for any time, but savour it now, as power and grace against a troubled world.
--Julia Spicher Kasdorf, Shale Play: Poems and Photographs from the Fracking Fields
Flyway situates itself as a poem in a biodiverse temporality where all species of home are rooted. Its address, O / downtrodden / stray, directed to those scrambling for purchase on a soft ridge of song, is a balm so many people on the planet could use right now. The question that persists, that thrums beneath this poem is as simple and endangered as tallgrass: How do you remember home?
--Sue Goyette, Ocean
Following the devastation and dislocation of war, Flyway is a haunting that becomes an inheritance. Tracing migrations both inexorable and precarious, with the tallgrass as her teacher, Sarah Ens creates a work of imagination wider than the horizon.
--Laurie D. Graham, Fast Commute
Flyway is a tender and urgent re-negotiation of place, displacement, memory, and war. The poems are elemental, touched by bread and metal, grass and stone.
--Benjamin Hertwig, Slow War