When you open this book, it will be like you have just found it in a room for meditation or left outside in the shade of an old tree or on the kitchen table of a reliable friend: something both familiar and strange in the incantations' beckoning...Just as evening comes to benedict each day, the dusk-hinge that closes away to-do and leaves you ready for rest, these incantations put away your troubles in a drawer and invite you to light a candle of awareness.
—Kim Stafford, author of Singer Come from Afar
Vital, beautiful questions spin like planets in Bethany Lee's Etude for Belonging, circling around the miraculous sun of love. As readers, we are spun lovingly with her as she asks, "What does it cost to fall in love with the world?" The answer is joyously seeded throughout poems which are generous and knowing in the tradition of Hafez and Rumi and other poets of the world and soul.
This is a welcoming book, a book of Yes that makes room for us all.
It is a necessary answer to pain and destruction.
May it carry, astonish, and change you.
—Annie Lighthart, author of Pax, Iron String, and Lantern
Bethany Lee's Etude for Belonging gives me hope at a time when it is most needed. Like the trees about which she writes in "Reaching Out," each poem in this new collection offers profound connection to Lee and to the world she inhabits. I'm grateful for the sense of loving acceptance and community Lee crafts through her beautiful words-words that convey to the reader that "We can stand together." That sense of unity, of belonging, is a gift.
—Melanie Springer Mock, author of Worthy: Finding Yourself in a World Expecting Someone Else
Bethany has done it again! This book is "the blessing / of a room where strangers sit / breathing unashamed/ into a chosen silence." Bethany is a curator of quiet spaces. She gently points us to the center, to "the swirling heart that binds us / all in place," and whispers, "This could be the better." Even if "there may come all I fear and several horrible things I failed to consider," this is a book to soothe and inspire.
—Joann Renee Boswell, author of Cosmic Pockets, poetry editor for Untold Volumes, skeptical mystic
There are promises here such as, "There is wholeness in the heart of things / and you are in the heart of the heart." There are unexpected questions and loving answers. Bethany offers us a world that is real in the pain and grief, and alluring in the possibility of available beauty. She invites you to "stand near a window and sing in the mystery." Don't resist! Stand by this window. "As you wait/ there will be transformation."
—Peg Edera, author of Love is Deeper than Distance: Poems of love, death, a little sex, ALS, dementia, and the widow's life thereafter
Bethany will take your hand, gently beckoning, "You're not doing courage wrong, if it doesn't feel brave." She'll ask you to stop and look at the stars, giving you enough space to let your sighs slip from your body. Then, when you are quiet enough to feel the heartbeat of the world, she'll whisper in your ear, "How long can you suspend your disbelief?" Follow the notes of her song, dance together on the shoreline of creation, and don't be afraid to join in on the chorus. Sing the song of being alive.
juniper klatt, author of I was raised in a house of water and I wrote this naked
Bethany Lee's poems speak plainly of the storms, pain, and hungers of daily life, offering a profound hope for transformation. Even so, "Hope is manual labor," she writes. "Get right in there and mix up a batch." These tender poems accompany the reader as they turn to this work, offering the language of nature, Spirit, and a radical acceptance of the reader themselves.
—Jennifer L. Hollis, music-thanatologist, writer, and the author of Music at the End of Life: Easing the Pain and Preparing the Passage