“The poems in Flight unspool a rich and charmed history of survival into songs that celebrate the miracle of endurance in a country defined by the peculiar phenomenon of race; many of the poems in this collection explore (or allude to) the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson with a brilliance that is underscored by the poet’s extraordinary sense of sound to etch a new reality in our ears. Here the poet employs the perennial powers of poetic forms (pantoum, ghazals, and sonnet, not to mention the Stevens imitation of 13 Ways of Looking at a Blackbird) to refresh staid conversations and to lyrically give voice to the good fortune of travel and language. Whether reveling in having reached middle-age or recalling that fateful day, September 11th, Flight issues its own battle cry and imaginatively addresses one of the great complexities of our time.” Major Jackson
Raised in St. Louis, Missouri, and San Bernardino, California, Chaun Ballard is an affiliate editor for Alaska Quarterly Review, a Callaloo fellow, and a graduate of the MFA Program at the University of Alaska, Anchorage. Chaun Ballard’s chapbook, Flight, is the winner of the 2018 Sunken Garden Poetry Prizeand is published by Tupelo Press. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in ANMLY (FKA Drunken Boat), Columbia Poetry Review, Frontier Poetry, Lunch Ticket, Pittsburgh Poetry Review, Rattle, and other literary magazines. His work has received nominations for both Best of the Net and a Pushcart Prize.
“Tara Ballard’s opulently beautiful book guides her readers through the glories and tragedies of the people of the Middle East with such vivid language that we profoundly feel sensations; we can ‘taste each / syllable’ on the ‘tongue / like horseradish, like honey.’ In her witnessing, she never takes sides, though she exposes the consequences of those who do. Unafraid of the necessary work of weaving together binaries, her poems make one fabric of the region’s lyric and spiritual traditions and its present day realities of refugees, NGOs, peacekeepers, minefields, and surveillance.
Ballard’s work carries on C.P. Cavafy’s legacy as a documentarian and ‘poet-historian.’ Like Cavafy, she speaks in the voices of individuals in the hands of their historical moment, subject to their leaders’ often unwise and destructive agendas. We hear their full-throated voices singing vulnerability and courage, love and grieving. House of the Night Watch is a book we urgently need, one that gives us hope that one day we will wake up to peace.” Aliki Barnstone
Tara Ballard has recently returned home to Alaska, where she was born and raised. For the last eight years, she and her husband lived in the Middle East and West Africa, where they taught English in local area schools and universities. Winner of the 2016 Many Voices Project competition, her first book, House of the Night Watch, is published by New Rivers Press and is now available. Tara holds an MFA from the University of Alaska, Anchorage. Her poems have been published by Bellingham Review; North American Review; Poetry Northwest; Salamander; The Southampton Review; War, Literature and the Arts; and other literary magazines.