Praise for A Month’s Worth of Instructional Poems
How to Make Butter Like a Pilgrim
Pour a cup of milk into your pocket and then visit the
house of every human you’ve ever met and tell them,
It was a pleasure knowing you in this lifetime, hope to see you
once more in the next. Never look behind you, just
head out West at a slow churn.
This little poem, along with all the others in Rebecca Bridge’s A Month’s Worth of Instructional Poems, seems the product of a marriage between Seneca’s wit and brevity and Emily Dickinson’s stunning lyricism. From each poem’s title to its last word, I found myself in awe of this poet’s ability to sustain such freshness of language and imagination, and to hold in perfect balance such profundity and lightness. Though her Instructions for How to Be Instructed suggest we read one poem a day, I dare anyone who opens this book to try to stop at just one.
—Cathy Smith Bowers, author of The Collected Poems of Cathy Smith Bowers, and former North Carolina Poet Laureate.
Bridge’s dazzling aphoristic “how-to’s” are like the imaginary “hot-cold goodies” I read about as a child in Enid Blyton’s The Faraway Tree. You pop one in your mouth (or mind) and just when it starts to feel unbearably hot, it turns cold. I’ve always yearned for someone to tell me “How to Be,” but I didn’t know I wanted to learn “How to Churn Butter Like a Pilgrim” (nor that it would involve a pocket full of milk) or “How to Be as Self-Possessed as Rainfall.” It turns out I do. You will too.
—Matthea Harvey, author of author of five books of poetry including, If the Tabloids Are True What Are You? and a New York Times Notable Book Author.
In a cultural moment obsessed with the possibilities of quick self-improvement, Bridge’s A Month’s Worth of Instructional Poems delivers a truly welcome tonic. These poems pack vastness, wonder, and the simultaneous beauty and tragedy of being both alive and mortal into playful, imperative morsels. These poems won’t tell you how to boost your productivity or up your sales quota – thank goodness! Instead, they’ll help you simply revel in our shared strangeness and vulnerability. Pay attention.
—Dora Malech, author of Shore Ordered Ocean, Say So, and Stet, and a Ruth Lilly Poetry Fellow.