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The Music of Her Rivers pays homage to the rivers that taught the poet—the Rio Grande and the Chicago and Illinois Rivers. Sharp-eyed and empathetic, Golden serves as a witness, documenting place, history, and people, especially those left voiceless due to violence or discrimination—from the refugee border crossers of the Rio Grande to the Irish immigrants and former slave The Music of Her Rivers pays homage to the rivers that taught the poet—the Rio Grande and the Chicago and Illinois Rivers. Sharp-eyed and empathetic, Golden serves as a witness, documenting place, history, and people, especially those left voiceless due to violence or discrimination—from the refugee border crossers of the Rio Grande to the Irish immigrants and former slaves struggling to build lives in Chicago in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Each poem captures the enduring challenges of Native peoples, laborers, naturalists, and immigrants through its haunting and consuming verse. Throughout the collection the nuanced representation of the landscape allows the rivers to become witnesses and actors themselves. ACCLAIM “Her rivers are urgent witnesses; her rivers sing truths, shimmer in the darkness. Here are songs pure as water to nourish and cleanse us in the season of lies.”—Sandra Cisneros, author of The House on Mango Street “The rivers in Renny Golden’s poems are both borders and bridges between the people and the land, in the history they somehow write together.”—Tom Montgomery Fate, author of Cabin Fever: A Suburban Father's Search for the Wild “Renny Golden's formidable powers as a poet shine through in these intensely personal and political poems. She gifts us with a tale of two rivers and the people whose lives have depended on them. An activist and a contemplative, Golden invites readers not only to witness but to act.”—Demetria Martinez, author of Mother Tongue “The poet Renny Golden testifies, for the Rio Grande and Chicago Rivers and the stories they contain. Her poetry inspires with its models of engagement, as a former Dominican Sister, as a citizen.”—Carole Simmons Oles, author of A Selected History of Her Heart: Poems ABOUT THE AUTHOR Renny Golden is an activist and award-winning author. Her book Blood Desert: Witnesses, 1820–1880 (UNM Press) won the WILLA Literary Award for poetry in 2011, was named a Southwest Notable Book of the Year in 2012, and was a finalist for the New Mexico–Arizona Book Award.


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The Music of Her Rivers pays homage to the rivers that taught the poet—the Rio Grande and the Chicago and Illinois Rivers. Sharp-eyed and empathetic, Golden serves as a witness, documenting place, history, and people, especially those left voiceless due to violence or discrimination—from the refugee border crossers of the Rio Grande to the Irish immigrants and former slave The Music of Her Rivers pays homage to the rivers that taught the poet—the Rio Grande and the Chicago and Illinois Rivers. Sharp-eyed and empathetic, Golden serves as a witness, documenting place, history, and people, especially those left voiceless due to violence or discrimination—from the refugee border crossers of the Rio Grande to the Irish immigrants and former slaves struggling to build lives in Chicago in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Each poem captures the enduring challenges of Native peoples, laborers, naturalists, and immigrants through its haunting and consuming verse. Throughout the collection the nuanced representation of the landscape allows the rivers to become witnesses and actors themselves. ACCLAIM “Her rivers are urgent witnesses; her rivers sing truths, shimmer in the darkness. Here are songs pure as water to nourish and cleanse us in the season of lies.”—Sandra Cisneros, author of The House on Mango Street “The rivers in Renny Golden’s poems are both borders and bridges between the people and the land, in the history they somehow write together.”—Tom Montgomery Fate, author of Cabin Fever: A Suburban Father's Search for the Wild “Renny Golden's formidable powers as a poet shine through in these intensely personal and political poems. She gifts us with a tale of two rivers and the people whose lives have depended on them. An activist and a contemplative, Golden invites readers not only to witness but to act.”—Demetria Martinez, author of Mother Tongue “The poet Renny Golden testifies, for the Rio Grande and Chicago Rivers and the stories they contain. Her poetry inspires with its models of engagement, as a former Dominican Sister, as a citizen.”—Carole Simmons Oles, author of A Selected History of Her Heart: Poems ABOUT THE AUTHOR Renny Golden is an activist and award-winning author. Her book Blood Desert: Witnesses, 1820–1880 (UNM Press) won the WILLA Literary Award for poetry in 2011, was named a Southwest Notable Book of the Year in 2012, and was a finalist for the New Mexico–Arizona Book Award.

8 review for The Music of Her Rivers: Poems

  1. 5 out of 5

    Mark Johnson

    The Music of Her Rivers. Poems. Renny Golden, University of New Mexico Press, 2019 Witness is one who sees. Witness is what they see. Witness is what they say about what they saw. There is no separating the three. Renny Golden is a witness who sees with her eyes, with her heart and with her pen. To witness is the poet’s calling and burden on our behalf. The Music of Her Rivers is the record of what she saw, reading the history, walking the land, living with the people. Like her inspirations she ca The Music of Her Rivers. Poems. Renny Golden, University of New Mexico Press, 2019 Witness is one who sees. Witness is what they see. Witness is what they say about what they saw. There is no separating the three. Renny Golden is a witness who sees with her eyes, with her heart and with her pen. To witness is the poet’s calling and burden on our behalf. The Music of Her Rivers is the record of what she saw, reading the history, walking the land, living with the people. Like her inspirations she can be in many places at the same time. Upstream, midstream, downstream; past, present and future; listening to the kiskadees which she names, naming the tortillas and boiled eggs which she tastes, living in the spirit which she resurrects. There are many creatures in her poems, familiar and totemic. Centuries pass by remarked. Rivers run and sing. A prize winning poet published in many journals, this is her second book of poems. It has a number of interwoven structures. The Music of Her Rivers is an autobiography of the earth and a biographical vignette of the poet. It is a geographical exploration of two very different ecologies. It is an ecological weaving of the Anthropocene out of the Holocene. Her rivers flow through us, become us, carry us along, and continue when we are gone. They are a cartography of the soul. Golden’s life included years as a Dominican nun, and her life is that of an activist committed to social justice. Her Irish immigrant stock, her Native American spirit stock sing her songs. Both streams contribute to her verse. The Rio Grande and Chicago’s Illinois ( the city and the river can not be separated) divide the collection into two parts. Catholicism’s settling priests, capitalism’s trappers and traders, native tribes and migrant workers create many additional layers. Her descriptions are as luscious, as evocative, as categorically precise as Annie Dillard, or Terry Tempest Williams, or Mary Oliver’s; her narrative as rich and inspiring as Joan Murray’s Niagara, her lyricism as personal as Edna St. Vincent Millay’s. The historic scope of the poems constitutes a loosely woven epic sequence from preconquest and primordial Americas to our now ravaged and threatened world. The politics of borders and cruelty are scrutinized and dissected. They cannot be ignored. And still the poems are beautiful. They belong in our libraries, our ears and our hearts. Golden is the poet doing the work of peacemaking. Mark C. Johnson Claremont, CA

  2. 4 out of 5

    Karen

    Rivers are storytellers-waterways that carry ancestral memories, immigrants histories and traumas, and the deepest questions. The Chicago, Illinois, and Rio Grande Rivers have shaped Renny Golden’s passion and commitment to truth and justice. Her precise prose weaves the yearnings and fears of those early Chicago immigrants including her Irish grandmother, with the Potawatomi and Winnebago warriors, and with the desperate cries of women and children crossing the Rio Grande today. With each narrat Rivers are storytellers-waterways that carry ancestral memories, immigrants histories and traumas, and the deepest questions. The Chicago, Illinois, and Rio Grande Rivers have shaped Renny Golden’s passion and commitment to truth and justice. Her precise prose weaves the yearnings and fears of those early Chicago immigrants including her Irish grandmother, with the Potawatomi and Winnebago warriors, and with the desperate cries of women and children crossing the Rio Grande today. With each narrative, the reader is pulled into these migrant crossings and hears: “Speak river, disturb us with your open wound, even if for a day”. A masterful poet and activist challenges the reader to not only hear these voices in The Music of Her Rivers but to stand in solidarity with all those river travelers, especially with the mothers and fathers today crossing over to protect their children and to ensure their future safety. These poems ferry the reader into deep waterways of ancient wisdom. Beauty and inspiration abound.

  3. 4 out of 5

    james Berg

  4. 5 out of 5

    Mapleliz

  5. 5 out of 5

    Ruth

  6. 5 out of 5

    Oriana

  7. 4 out of 5

    Laurel

  8. 5 out of 5

    jennet wheatstonelllsl

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