NECTAR AND SMALL (Finishing Line Press 2019) offers entry into the small nature of backyards and storm drains, bird encounters and beach toys swept away. Here, Jacqueline Balderrama examines the quiet presence of shared inhabitants, presence too of encroaching waste. These twenty-six, free verse poems celebrate the discovery of nature’s detail and interconnectedness. This is especially true for the series of bird poems woven throughout the collection where species glimpsed in the grasslands of Centennial Valley, Montana defy boundary with disappearance or vast migration. In tandem, Nectar and Small addresses moral dilemmas by confronting individual consumerism and admitting domestic struggles to reduce. Balderrama points to our capacity to appreciate the world around us instead of fear or dismissal, a careful attentiveness toward what so many, human and nonhuman, name home.
Praise for Nectar and Small:
“Jacqueline Balderrama has done just what the founders of the Taft-Nicholson Center were hoping for when they created a place where writers and artists and scholars and students might experience wilderness. The lovely poems in Nectar and Small abound with the wonders to be found there – hummingbirds, sapsuckers, hawks, sandhill cranes. I’m particularly intrigued by the questions they inspire her to ask: ‘Will we ever be allowed this kind of being?'” –Jacqueline Osherow, author of My Lookalike at the Krishna Temple, Ultimatum from Paradise, and Whitethorn
“Jacqueline Balderrama’s poems bore down into the earth to show the great human erasure of our earth, our birds, our water, our trees. But from that deep and dark well, she draws forth the thing humans are best at: making beauty from absence. Like a heron’s wing furled and then unfurled, Balderrama’s poems reveal the stark beauty of this world as it disappears and then, through this grace-giving language, appears again.” –Nicole Walker, co-author of The After-Normal: Brief Alphabetical Essays on a Changing Planet, author of Sustainability: A Love Story, and Where the Tiny Things Are: Feathered Essays
“Part memoir, part bird guide, Nectar and Small traces an ever-shifting landscape from California to Montana, where hummingbirds migrate, valley towns are flooded, and hawks vanish, taking flight. Jacqueline Balderrama has given us a map, not only of marshes and mountains, but of compassion and curiosity stretched across them. The urban and natural worlds intermingle as trees are glimpsed through a chain-link fence and a couple avoids single-use plastics. “Something will emerge from the soil,” the speaker contends, contemplating decay, and what emerges are these deeply perceptive and quietly intrepid poems.” –Adam Giannelli, author of Tremulous Hinge