Clark County Poet Laureate Heather Lang-Cassera Pens “Gathering Broken Light,” a Poetry Collection on the Aftermath of the 2017 Las Vegas Shooting
PORTLAND, OR; September 28, 2021 — Unsolicited Press announces the immediate release of Heather lang-Cassera’s GATHERING BROKEN LIGHT, a haunting and mesmerizing poetry collection. Gathering Broken Light confronts pasts we cannot understand, largely following the October 2017 mass shooting in Las Vegas. Anchored in the severity and the beauty of the Mojave Desert landscape, fractured narratives, surrealist repetition, and imagistic lyricism work to contemplate grief, including both overwhelming sorrow and deep love. To those lost by gun violence, a voice yearns, “I wish I could sing the sky to you.”
In a collection that refuses to flatten the horrors of gun violence, both “flashing restless anger” and immense sadness, acknowledging that grief never leaves entirely, these poems also offer small comforts, even hope, as the “century plants continue to bloom // slowly, like stars burn” beneath a “moon as emptiness traced / and brimming with promise / because both can be true.” To those lost, this collection insists, “You deserve to be remembered.”
Praise for GATHERING BROKEN LIGHT
Heather Lang-Cassera’s Gathering Broken Light is an extended meditation on the shattering legacies of American gun violence. Dedicated to the victims and survivors of the October 1 mass shooting in Las Vegas, Gathering Broken Light grapples with the unspeakable. In lyric, light-infused poems evoking the dramatic beauty of the Mojave Desert, Lang-Cassera repeatedly confronts language’s limitations to represent trauma — “these metaphors attempt to dissociate / or to try to understand, / but nothing in between” or “I took words & placed them on my tongue, / a quiet catapult for what / I cannot say” — while still, nonetheless, insisting on the reparative linguistic rituals of elegy. The untitled poems seamlessly flow from one to another: ekphrastic poems glaze random discarded objects documented in Getty news photographs of the shooting with heartbreakingly tender attention, while recurring poems beginning with the words “in an alphabet of grief” attempt to articulate a lexicon of trauma. Gathering Broken Light is a gorgeous canticle that powerfully catalogues personal and collective griefs within a ruptured and rupturing world.
— Lee Ann Roripaugh, author of tsunami vs. the fukushima 50
With the exquisite control of evocative language and the brilliant use of repetition, the intimacy of Gathering Broken Light mirrors the persistence of trauma and resilience. Lang-Cassara guides us through the deepest rooms of grief, both collective and personal, with both stunning and haunting attention to image — “one before the summoning of ghosts, / one before the faces washed pale by floodlights, / one before the eyes wider than the mouths / of oh, holy night.” This lyrical engagement with loss laces together the fragmented and unanswerable questions a community contends with when recovering from a tragedy with such harrowing effects as the October 1 mass shooting. I felt invited to bring my own ache to a collection that renders the reader captivated with a tension and a longing so deeply felt and known that it becomes an offering to both the bereaved and a beloved city, which shimmers, even as it breaks, with belonging.
— Jennifer Battisti, author of Off Boulder Highway
Let us not forget. Poetry can help us to fulfill that admonition. In the tradition of such testaments as Chris Llewellyn’s Fragments from the Fire, remembering the garment workers killed in the Triangle Shirtwaist Company fire, and Valerie Martínez’s Each and Her, remembering the hundreds of women and girls murdered in Ciudad Juaréz, Heather Lang-Cassera’s Gathering Broken Light remembers to us those killed, those injured, those aggrieved in the 1 October 2017 shooting in Las Vegas. These poems attend to detail: “the abandoned napkin is a collapsed cloud”; “A trampled cup is a deserted snow globe”; “The aluminum can is a failing telescope.” Such careful observation of what was left behind is remembrance of what was taken away. Heather Lang-Cassera’s “alphabet of grief” makes Gathering Broken Light one quiet, wise way of “confronting / pasts we cannot understand.”
— H. L. Hix, author of Rain Inscription
The tension above
the water glass
foreshadows the moon
just this once.
The mourning dove
brushes the sill like
a finger on a
About Heather Lang-Cassera
Heather Lang-Cassera lives in Las Vegas, Nevada where she served as Clark County Poet Laureate (2019–2021) and was named 2017 “Best Local Writer or Poet” by the readers of Nevada Public Radio’s Desert Companion. Heather holds a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from Fairleigh Dickinson University with a Graduate Certificate in Literary Translation. She serves as an Editor for Tolsun Books and World Literature Editor for The Literary Review. Her chapbook, I was the girl with the moon-shaped face, was published by Zeitgeist Press. At Nevada State College, Heather teaches College Success, Composition, and Creative Writing. www.heatherlang.cassera.net
About Unsolicited Press
Unsolicited Press was founded in 2012 and is based in Portland, OR. The press strives to produce exceptional works of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry from award-winning authors. Learn more at www.unsolicitedpress.com.
GATHERING BROKEN LIGHT is available on September 28, 2021 as a paperback (120 p.; 978–1–950730–91–9) and e-book (all major retailers). The title is distributed to the trade by Ingram. The author is open to speaking opportunities, interviews with the media, and readings.
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