Paperback: 120 pages
In Crosscut: Poems, Sean Prentiss takes readers into what it means to be a rookie trail-crew leader guiding a motley collection of at-risk teens for five months of backbreaking work in the Pacific Northwest. It is a world where the sounds of trail tools—Pulaskis, McLeods and Hazel hoes—filter into dreams and set the rhythm of each day. In this memoir-in-poems, Prentiss shares a music most of us will never experience, set to tools swung and sharpened, backdropped by rain and snow and sun, as individuals transform into crew.
|Sean Prentiss is Backcountry Magazine’s poet laureate and the author of Finding Abbey: The Search for Edward Abbey and His Hidden Desert Grave.
“It’s a testament to Prentiss’s telling that he stirs up a yearning to walk the trails and wield a Pulaski alongside him.”—Amy Wang, The Oregonian
“A book about beauty, healing, and optimism in spite of troubles. . . . This is the type of poetry that, were he still alive, Jim Harrison would likely have enjoyed.”—Jackson Ellis, Verbicide
“Crosscut is so much about how life can be molded in a few short months of long days. Prentiss’s poems remind you of the work of Gary Snyder and the harsh lives of the characters in Jack Driscoll’s short stories. . . . His language is crisp, spare, descriptive.”—Robert Halleck, Split Rock Review
“Crosscut is about saving oneself in an unfamiliar and often harsh environment and holding onto this reprogramming when returned to civilization. These poems go much deeper than ax work and shovels. Perhaps we all need to pause for a ‘tool count’ on occasion.”—Betty McCarthy, Roundup Magazine
“In a time when human communities have become more divorced than ever from the natural world, Sean Prentiss’s debut collection of poems, Crosscut, celebrates the binding and clarifying effects of intense intimacy with the forests and rivers of the Pacific Northwest.”—Noah Davis, Green Mountains Review
“Through these beautiful, spare, and arresting poems, we hear the language of the trail: the tools, the bruises, and the long nights.”—Literary North
“At what point does hard labor stop nurturing the body and mind and start harming them? What do people lose when they do their work at keyboards and experience nature primarily as ‘recreation’? With grace, power and humor, Crosscut makes us ask such questions as it reminds us of the power of sweat to transform our environments—and ourselves.”—Margot Harrison, Seven Days
“Prentiss’s poetic debut, Crosscut, tells the story of a ragtag trail crew crisscrossing the Northwest, learning the woods and themselves. By the end you, too, will pine for aching shoulders, dips in the river, and a night under the stars.”—Joe Wilkins, author of Fall Back Down When I Die: A Novel
“Prentiss’s poems have the muscular strength of a Pulaski swing—contact with earth and stone and wood, carving a trail in the wilderness away from all that hurts us, telling the tale of a crew of teenagers ‘so recently lost.’”—Todd Davis, author of Native Species and Winterkill
“The world is strewn with nature poems, but too few of them feature blisters and sweat, as Sean Prentiss’s do. My favorite poems here center the tools integral to life on a trail crew—chainsaws cut through bullshit, mattocks churn up new ground. Reader, open yourself to diction as incantation: Pulaski, hitch, crosscut. Sapwood, rakers, snag.”—Christine Byl, author of Dirt Work: An Education in the Woods