Whether watching men releasing caged birds at dawn in New York City or a ladder of cranes rising from a field in Manitoba, Tom Sexton is a keen observer of the interconnectedness of the natural and human worlds. The former Alaska poet laureate takes to the road in this new collection, wending a lyrical and at times mystical path between Alaska and New England.
Travelers along the way include the fabled wolf of Gubbio, old and lame and long past his taming encounter with Saint Francis of Assisi, and Chinese poet Li Bai chanting to a Yangtze River dolphin. Yet, while Sexton’s journey crosses borders—and occasionally centuries—his ultimate destination is always the landscape and people of Alaska. A Ladder of Cranes showcases Sexton’s mastery of both traditional forms and free verse. The tensions of his formal influences, Chinese and European, force the reader to experience these spare lines and tight observations in stunning new ways.