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How to Fly (In Ten Thousand Lessons) by Barbara Kingsolver

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Barbara Kingsolver was raised in Carlisle, Kentucky, by her mother and her father who was a physician. Her first love was music, and she was accepted by DePauw University on a music scholarship. When she discovered, in her words,  that “classical pianists compete for six job openings a year, and the rest of [them] play ‘Blue Moon’ in a hotel lobby,” she switched her major to biology. After graduation and a year in France, she moved to Tucson, Arizona, where she lived for two decades and became a science writer and then, in 1988 burst onto the literary scene with her novel Bean Trees.  In 1994, she moved to a farm in the upper Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, in Washington County where she runs a restaurant and souvenir shop close to the Glade Springs Exit on I-81. Among her many honors, she has been awarded the National Humanities Medal and the Orange Prize in Fiction, an international award based in Great Britain. This book of poetry is her first book since 1993 that has not landed on the New York Times best-seller list. The poem, “Ghost Pipes” celebrates this flower forsaking chlorophyll for sustenance from tree roots and compares that choice to her own choice to walk away from her first marriage and a steady paycheck. Her delightful “how to” poems often end with a rejection of the title, like “How to Drink Water When There Is Wine,” which ends with the line, “Now I have lived long and know better.” “How to Shear a Sheap,” ends with two lines: “That should work/ It doesn’t.”  “Telling a moment is Kingsolver’s apt description of what poetry does, and it’s what she does, stunningly, in How to Fly (In Ten Thousand Easy Lessons) How to Fly is language and observation at their most succulent, moments seized at their peak of ripeness.” --Jonathan Miles. "A gorgeous collection of poetry...These poems unplug from TV and social media and the outrage of the moment and turn our attention to the immediate and the everlasting, human intimacy and the power and mystery of nature." - Tampa Bay Times. "Kingsolver brings her gifts of observation and reflection to How to Fly...For a reader wanting to escape, to fly while grounded, this book is a map that offers surprise and delight." – BookPage.

 New York: Harper/HarperCollins, 2020. 111 pages with Notes. Hardback in dust jacket.