Viable–Julie Hensley


To enter Julie Hensley’s Viable is not to step but to plunge… With Hensley’s guide, we travel through deftly rendered landscapes of the Great Plains and the rural South. We study the language of horses and historical figures. We probe marriage, miscarriage, childbirth, and child-rearing, “the things people plant to anchor themselves/ beneath so much sky.” We hear our own fears and wants echoing back to us from the deeply human center of this book.  —Julie Marie Wade, author of Postage Due: Poems & Prose Poems and When I Was Straight: Poems

In the rich and vivid poems of Viable, Julie Hensley rings the changes of a girl child’s life, from riding stick-horses in her yard in Big Stone Gap to sexual discovery after sixteen summers, to homesickness in her first apartment, then to love, marriage and, motherhood. The path may be familiar, but none of it is simple, and there are sharp turns of grief and reckoning along the way. Rooted in the natural world—mountain, desert, prairie, seashore—and seeing herself as a creature among creatures, Hensley offers us words of life in all its uncertainty, knowing that “Creation is still a gift/ a yolk bobbing uncertainly/ inside a fragile shell.” —George Ella Lyon (Kentucky Poet Laureate 2015-2016), Many-Storied House

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