Spotlight on Alaska Books: Overwinter, by Jeremy Pataky


You wore shorefast ice,
birds were starting,
spring high water
was still white snow
in mountains.
Ice still rimmed your banks.
We would come to know gibbous light.
We would come to know snow light.
We would come to know ice light, star, animal
light, window light, want light,
sweat light. We’d know the light of the river rippling
shadows on the shadows. We’d know
candid light, we’d know dinner light and laughter light,
we’d know light off the underside of owl wings,
melt light and the light of the woods,
the light of letters, light of the dash
and the strange feathers of baleen on blank walls.
We’d know rain light and dream light. We’d know the peaceful
light of a single morning, we’d know the
thick light beneath the bridge. We’d know
the light of our clamor to belong in all light,
we’d know bluegrass light
and aquatic light, tundra light, intermountain light and
the light of surprise—
I know iceless light of you,
winter light, spring light, speech light of you, light of seeing
you, memory light,
photograph, ache light, light of one of these days, light of so
much left to say,
light of one day, light of one night
and one morning, light of one day. 

from Overwinter by
Jeremy Pataky

Jeremy Pataky’s debut book of poetry, Overwinter, was
published by University of Alaska Press in the Alaska Literary Series. The collection
measures familial and romantic love against the wildness of the far North and
the self. Remote settings provide both a solace and challenge where the
speaker’s aloneness resists loneliness in full, and fully imagined, places.
This is not a static vision, though; the present harkens back to a verdant but
distant past. Nor is it a silent world. These poems reconcile the natural quiet
and sounds of wilderness with the clamor of built environments. Pataky lives
this contrast, migrating seasonally between Anchorage and Wrangell-St. Elias
National Park. These poems bridge the urban and rural, unifying them through an
eros that is by turns fevered and serene. The book is haunted by all those the
poet has loved, and they survive in the hidden places sculpted by language.

“Emerson suggests that
‘genius is the activity that repairs the decay of things.’ Such genius is
at work in Jeremy Pataky’s debut, Overwinter. Easy to forget that the
effort of utmost attention is itself a mystical practice—as if to name all
that in the world can be named might restore to truest existence. But the
honest poet knows that the repair of the world also requires the brute
work of recognizing also those forces of erosion, some necessary, some
less so. Pataky is just such an honest poet, thank goodness, for all of us
who dwelling in the world also want it to be real, and in whose poems we find
an opportunity to become more real ourselves.” —Dan Beachy-Quick, author
of Circle’s Apprentice

Jeremy Pataky earned an MFA in poetry from the
University of Montana. His work has appeared in 
Colorado ReviewBlack Warrior
CirqueIce FloeThe Southeast
, and many others. He has worked as a wilderness guide,
nonprofit executive director, university instructor, and after school poetry
teacher. He is a founding board member of 49 Writers. He divides his time
between Anchorage and the town of McCarthy, in Wrangell-St. Elias National Park
and works as a consultant with an emphasis in arts and culture.
in paperback and will be available in eBook format soon. Learn
more at,
including dates for appearances on his upcoming
book tour.
The book will be launched in Anchorage on Friday, March 13th, at
Hugi-Lewis Studios starting at 6:30 pm, followed shortly thereafter by a week
of events in Southeast Alaska, including a 49 Writers class in Juneau.

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