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Blood Harmony by Lana Austin

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Iris Press does such a fine job lifting up previously “undiscovered” writers as well as celebrating established icons, like Ron Rash. Their covers belong in an art gallery. This collection is exemplary of the fine job they do. The title of this collection comes from the poet’s experience singing with her brother in foster care in rural Kentucky. Music – of a broad swath of genres -  is what binds all these poems together. “Blood Harmony introduces a lively new voice to Appalachian poetry. Lana K. W. Austin celebrates the bonds of memory and blood in poems of both harmony and drama, remembering the blood spilled in the coalfields, and the struggles of families with loyalty and courage. The poems pay tribute to the place and soul of the region, the music of blending voices, adolescent desire, and the exuberance of motherhood, the enduring legacy of Jean Ritchie and Bill Monroe, and the mountains where the music was born.” --Robert Morgan. “An ecclesiastical thread runs through this fine book, in that everything has its season, and everything--including joy and grief--goes together. Austin's poems achieve through their own high and lonesome registers what we expect from the best blues or hillbilly music: the human experience in this weary world is affirmed, even dignified. I am glad these refreshing, bone- and blood-deep poems are in the world.” --Maurice Manning. “These poems are handmade and heart-carved with a luthier's canny expertise. Anyone wishing to go, as her opening poem invites, "In Search of the Wild Dulcimer" need look no farther than this collection where kindred sounds blend beyond description. In thrall to depths of the spirit, her poems are also sweetly free. Blood Harmony will make you sigh and sob, clap and stomp.”--R. T. Smith. Lana Austin lives in Huntsville, Alabama, where she directs the Opera in the Schools program, teaches English at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, and directs traditional operettas and musicals through the School for the Arts.

Oak Ridge, Tennessee: The Iris Press, 2018. 67 pages. Trade paperback