Books

Leaving Tracks: A Prairie Guide

Using the form of a guidebook and complicating definitions of flyover country and culture, this collection weaves themes of wilderness and ownership, the rhythms of nature with human design, juxtaposing idyllic tales of life on the Plains with cautionary ones to offer an alternate view of the enigmatic prairie. Leaving Tracks was a Semi-Finalist for the 2015 Black River Chapbook Competition, a Semi-Finalist for the 2015 Gold Line Press Chapbook Contest, and received Honorable Mention for the 2015 Concrete Wolf Chapbook Prize

Though Rand McNally may have chosen to exclude parts of the Dakotas from its atlas in the late 80's, Sarah Fawn Montgomery knows that there is, indeed, a there there, that "the Plains are an altar" where people make "hard offerings to this hard place" but also sink their roots deep into the soil and flourish. Like any good guide, Leaving Tracks "makes(s) the myth of the land readable" and shows us that "there need be no contradiction between utility and beauty." Grace Bauer, author of Nowhere All At Once and The Women At The Well
Sarah Fawn Montgomery's poems grapple with the complicated human tension between wilderness and domestication, between body and will: "try to make something so untamed your own," she challenges, and reminds us that there is   ". . . only a membrane of grass separating you from the thrum that pumps beneath." These extraordinary lyrics confront our ambivalent relationship with nature, and our persistent resistance to seeing ourselves as part of the earth we try to subdue. They offer abundant wisdom, and they offer true grace. They will stay with me for a very long time. Corrinne Clegg Hales, author of To Make it Right
The poems in Sarah Fawn Montgomery’s new collection, Leaving Tracks: A Prairie Guide, are less “a prairie lesson for survival,” than a celebration of and reverence for this brutal and beautiful landscape that refuses to be tamed. Each poem takes the small moments and actions of everyday life in the plains: canning peaches, finding cicada husks, bearing down in a storm, and speaks lovingly of the toil and sacrifice so many made to make a life in the “flyover” states. Through vivid imagery, Montgomery shows readers though that this is not a place to flyover, but one to submit to, one that provides sustenance in body and soul in the form of a space to test resilience, one that provides fertility as “a gift to those who don’t give up.” Sarah A. Chavez, author of All Day, Talking