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Outside Paradise, Poems by Joanne Allred

As the song titles—each containing the word home—that shape these acrostic poems suggest, Joanne Allred’s Outside Paradise is at heart a meditation on home. Having lost her beloved canyon dwelling to a wildfire, the so-called Camp Fire that destroyed the town of Paradise, California, the speaker in these poems finds herself exiled from the bucolic life she had been living. How one’s sense of self is entwined with place, possessions, and known pathways, becomes a central inquiry. Is home finally a place or a state of being? As the title’s allusion to the lost biblical Paradise implies, being thrust suddenly outside one’s established life, dispossessed, unveils a difficult human truth: in our separateness from source “we all hunger for some gone primal home.” And so we sift ashes of memory and myth—as the poems in this collection do—trying to recover a sense of continuity, belonging, and trust that a “path that madly ricochets over scorched ground” could lead to wholeness.

Sample Poems by Joanne Allred

“In Outside Paradise, Joanne Harris Allred, a survivor of California’s most lethal wildfire to date, creates a moving chronicle of the dispossessed. Embracing the ironic and biblical implications of locale (Paradise, California, The Camp Fire), Allred gropes her way back from the oblivion of loss. These moving poems offer a chronicle of one survivor’s struggle to find a way home to a home that doesn’t exist, to recover from a disorientation so profound that it threatens even the poet’s ability to witness and give voice. Join Joanne Allred as she sifts through the wreckage of memory and trauma looking for an end to exile and, like our Miltonic forebears, makes her way, ‘with wandering steps and slow,’ through the world’s ‘dispassionate grandeur’ back to poetry and to peace.” —Joshua McKinney

ISBN 978-1625494528, 80 pages

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Also by Joanne Allred:

The Evolutionary Purpose of Heartbreak