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by Katharine Rauk
Black Lawrence Press
Publication Date: August 23, 2011
ISBN: 978-0-9826364-5-9
40 pages/ # poems Price: $9.00
Black Lawrence Publishing
115 Center Avenue
Aspinwall • PA • 15215
To order:

About the Book:

The wide-ranging poems of Katharine Rauk’s Basil are hungry. No matter their point of departure—the small room of a light bulb collector, a blood orange, a fragrant cedar box—these poems arrive again and again at the brink of the known world. Passionate, surprising, and wild, these are poems in pursuit of mystery, poems that are, without doubt, ravenous for transcendence.


Haunted and haunting, lit by the distant flickering candlelight of childhood folktales, Katharine Rauk’s poems are full of magical smells, ambitious insects and weeping toads. She takes us on dizzying trips inside the body’s dark cavern. These grave and bright poems introduce us to an animistic universe of giddy possibility—hallucinatory, mysterious and beautiful.
—Amy Gerstler

Some say the best time to leave a party is just before it peaks; leave everyone else in the room wanting more. That's how this chapbook makes me feel—a basil leaf left in the mouth for the great untold adventure that lies ahead. Neruda our tutelary guide in all his surreal erotic gusto. Rarely has formal invention and variation felt so necessary. Never has frustration felt so good.
—Timothy Liu

In Basil, Katharine Rauk offers up a flurry of searing images that is precise, worldly, near-angelic, and wholly sensuous. Out of the “unmanned / mansion of her mind” emerges a lucid stream of poems that this reader finds wonderfully idiomatic and sure-footed in tone and vision. There is a unique power to her imagination that movingly explores love, intimacy, and the natural world with linguistic flair and liveliness. I cannot imagine a more propitious addition and greater proof to our belief in what makes poetry essential to our lives than this book you now hold in your hands.
—Major Jackson

Welcome to the pleasures of Katharine Rauk's world, a world that feels as ancient as fairytales and as recent as texting. Here there is a mix of "rubied light" and "blooming dark" and everything is still in the process of being born, as if there were no DNA and the Creator continued to make each leaf from scratch. Be willing to be lost here. When you find yourself again, you'll be new.
—Fran Quinn

About the Author:

Katharine Rauk’s poems are published or forthcoming in literary journals such as Harvard Review, Beloit Poetry Journal, Zone 3, Copper Nickel, and others. A graduate of the Bennington Writing Seminars, she now lives and teaches in Minneapolis. Her chapbook, Basil, was selected as a finalist for the Fall 2008 Black River Chapbook Competition.

From the book:

After Cooking with Turmeric

My stained fingertips trace
your lips, the line
of your nose, one eyebrow
after another. Now
we are opening
vaulted windows
to a sunlight of bees,
a thousand burnished
throats. Now we are smudged
with Gobi sand, its taste
for heat. Now we smell
of freshly split wood,
that splintered moment
when lightning licks open
the heart of a tree.


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