New and Selected Poems
A visceral new collection from esteemed poet Stephan Torre, grappling with the strength and complexities of life in the northwest wild lands.
Drawing from a life lived well, amidst hard work and time for reflection in the northwest wild lands of the Canadian and American Wests, Stephan Torre returns to the literary world with his usual descriptive and lyric intensity. Comprised of new and selected poems, Red Obsidian explores the necessary tensions that arise between genders and the pain and grief of environmental loss.
Inspired and influenced by a diverse array of literary influences—Indigenous oral poets and English pastoral poets, T’ang Dynasty Chinese poets and Latin American poets, American Imagists and poets Theodore Roethke, James Wright, and W. S. Merwin—Torre’s book is a poetic journal of a man passionately engaged at once with the marvel of wilderness and the rural labours of family homesteading, construction, and the logging of that wilderness.
“When there’s more joy or grief or hunger for knowing than I could express or explore elsewhere, I’m afflicted with the need to squeeze language from my fists. One can only hold so much inside,” admits Torre. Readers will feel the torque, squeeze, and pull in these poems.
“Red Obsidian is bold, clean, as familiar yet original as water moving: luminous and its own element, yet connected powerfully to a further, ancient place. Torre writes in the vein of Snyder, Harrison, Merwin and Heaney. Like them, he lives in a world rarely accessible: yet here it is, magically durable, and losing none of its luster in the transference. He’s one of North America’s greatest living poets. ”—Rick Bass
“By turns litany and chant, lyric and dirge—an intense and empathetic voice. ”—Alice Major, author of Welcome to the Anthropocene
"The poems in Red Obsidian channel a chorus of ancient Chinese poets and indigenous voices to praise our wounded but unyielding world. Stephan Torres’s poems are lyrical, muscular, unflinching, and necessary. ”—Gary Young, author of That's What I Thought
“From the fierce joy and naming of wilderness labor, to the deep stillness of its contemplation, these poems light up the mind and the heart. ”—Dorianne Laux, author of Only as the Day Is Long, 2020 Pulitzer Prize Finalist
“Torre has developed a language of myth to address human experience in the great wild places of the West. ” —Publishers Weekly
"Red Obsidian is a book for the ages. Full of grit and wonder, grief and exhilaration, these poems throw off sparks. What a stunning testament to a world worked over, silted up, yet full of wings. ” —Kate Harris, author of Lands of Lost Borders