Preorder: Letters to Minnehaha Creek by Victoria Lin
Letters to Minnehaha Creek is a poetry collection structured in four sections of poems through the passing seasons. In many of the poems, the narrator addresses Minnehaha Creek directly, reminiscing about her deceased friend, Dorothy, as she walks the same neighborhood routes they once traveled together.
The tone of the poems reflects the seasons. Fall takes place in the aftermath of Dorothy’s death and explores the narrator’s longing for her friend. Winter highlights the narrator’s sadness and acceptance that Dorothy is truly gone. Spring follows, with a lighter tone as the narrator embraces life after the loss of her friend. Summer offers a sense of renewal, with poems that are letters written from the creek, rather than to it. The titles reset to one again, almost as if the manuscript experiences a rebirth.
The setting and symbolism portrayed in Letters to Minnehaha Creek complement the writing
style. For example, the speaker says, “A pair of mallards swim by / as I find my way up the stairs. // A female cardinal / in scalloped flight moves // across the sky alone, surprised / at times her partner is gone.” These vivid images of scenery surrounding the narrator also reflect the speaker’s emotional state. The symbolism of the pair of mallards and the female cardinal flying alone contrasts the speaker’s loneliness with the companionship she once
Letters to Minnehaha Creek will resonate with readers who have lost someone or lived with a loved one suffering from illness as it illustrates a vivid path towards healing and rebirth.
Advance Praise for Letters to Minnehaha Creek
Victoria Lin’s Letters to Minnehaha Creek is a quiet and moving elegy to a walking partner of ten years and the cityscape they shared. Lin’s delightful compendium of the living creek’s reach into parks, gardens, alleys, and yards is a poignant tribute to the way friendship runs through us long after the friend has departed.
-- Leslie Adrienne, author of Y: Poems
“Do you notice // that I am alone? / Do you save anything? // Do you keep some / of the world in your watery // heart?” Victoria Lin asks the neighborhood creek early on, in this wise and lucid sequence of linked poems. Lin grieves the loss of her friend Dorothy, who used to walk this path with her and has recently died of cancer. For the next year, Lin continues to contemplate and remember her friend, retracing their old route alone. Yet Lin isn’t alone. She has the world, with its wood ducks and lawn ornaments, its human suffering and deep love. This is ultimately a radically affirming book. Victoria Lin is a poet of great heart and great skill.
-- Katrina Vandenberg, author of The Alphabet Not Unlike the World
We live these seasons of grief and renewal, sorrow and acceptance. We walk these paths, these streets and alleys with Victoria Lin. We are by her side when she writes her letters to Minnehaha Creek, imploring the creek to remember her friend who has died. We feel the deep longing in our narrator that the whole natural world be her confidante, her companion in sorrow. The poet writes: “I cannot have you / as you were before. Now I write / with the alphabet of grief.” This elegant, beautifully written collection of poems honors the depths of friendship, honors the good fortune of having a friend, despite the terrible loss. And Lin does not leave us adrift in grief. She sees the big world of a city, its ways of diminishing and protecting the natural world, and its people. She gives us, in language, the beautiful creek, itself on the move through its own seasons, allows us to see this world through the eyes of two friends who claimed it and revered it. This is a beautiful book.
--Deborah Keenan, Author of Willow Room, Green Door: New and Selected Poems