"Ordinary Light" by Laura Maher and L.I. Henley

  • "Ordinary Light" by Laura Maher and L.I. Henley

Born and raised in desert towns hundreds of miles apart,  Laura Maher and L.I. Henley found each other through poetry. Ordinary Light traces a correspondence of the growing connections of two strangers, uncovering a shared archeological dig of lost loves, regrets, questions, and other half-buried artifacts of memory. Place, both geological and historical, are at the center of these poems, as are concerns about illness, climate change, gender-based violence, and political unrest.

In their collaborative correspondence Ordinary Light, the boundaries between individual artists L.I. Henley and Laura Maher blend and blur. A reader can happily get lost in this collection of quotidian yet luminous moments woven as a conversation between poets. These pieces are watery yet desert-steeped. They share language and memory and investigate the naming of things. The book also speaks of bodies in pain and illness, wrought with truth and beauty—the weight of bodies, the humanity of bodies, the femininity of bodies—and bodies are imagined untethered from their physical strictures, buoyant as they swim through these pages with strong strokes. I feel reverent toward these poems of fire, animals, bones, blue, time, rivers, love, questions, moons, women, fear, and friendship. One poet asks, “What do you make of all these miracles?” Much like a snakeskin is coined at one point in its pages, Ordinary Light embodies “cathedralness”—an open space shed by its makers, where we can wonder and wander, admiring how the light gets in.
—Rebecca Hart Olander, author of Uncertain Acrobats and editor/director of Perugia Press
What is a poem if not tension and beauty against an edge? What is a collection if not proximity and distance, edges fit like the earth’s shifting plates? And in an instant, collision, quakes, a mountain, or perhaps nothing on the surface for a very long time. Ordinary Light is an extraordinary chapbook grounded in this motion—the dynamism of a planet upon which two writers trace (no, confront) the boundaries. Insistently, these poems push upon the where, when, and why of endings. At what point the body, the illness, at what point does the desert, the country, the loveache, the memory, the caretaking, the leavetaking, when does it stop? I do not stop where you begin. And from whence such direct and redemptive light? It’s here inside this book. So bright it could restructure you, deep down and all at once.
—Rachel Mindell, author of May/be

Laura Maher and L.I. Henley

Laura Maher is the author of the chapbook, Sleep Water (Dancing Girl Press, 2017). Her poetry and prose has appeared in Quarter After Eight, The Common, Crazyhorse, The Collagist, New Ohio Review, and Third Coast. Laura holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Arizona, a Master of Arts from the University of Texas at Austin, and a Master of Fine Arts from Warren Wilson College. She lives, works, and writes in Tucson, Arizona.
LI Henley was born and raised in the Mojave Desert town of Joshua Tree, California. A mixed-media artist and writer, she is the author of six books including Starshine Road, which won the 2017 Perugia Press Prize, the novella-in-verse, Whole Night Through, and the poetry and art book From the moon, as I fell with artist Zara Kand. Her art, poetry, and prose have appeared in many journals, most recently Adroit, The Indianapolis Review, Waxwing, Diode, Thrush, Ninth Letter, Brevity, and Arts & Letters. Her essay, “Drive!” was chosen as the winner of the Arts & Letters/Susan Atefat Prize for Creative Nonfiction in 2020. She is married to poet and musician Jonathan Maule of Electric Sound Bath Experience.

Laura Maher email: lauramaherdotcom@gmail.com

Laura Maher Website: lauramaher.com

L.I. Henley Instagram: @lihenleyart

L.I. Henley Facebook: @lihenley

L.I. Henley Website: www.lihenley.com

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Tags: poetry, conversation, desert, place, friendship