The Nightfields



“The hushed and meditative poems in this intensely lovely book manage somehow to feel simultaneously old-fashioned and cutting-edge. Amidst the chaotic noise and incessant annoyances of contemporary life, Klink’s poetry carves out a space in which we are reminded what it is like for an individual consciousness to encounter the awesome mysteries of both the outer universe and the inner self. ‘I am unable to / picture anything so whole / it doesn’t crush what’s / missing,’ she writes. And elsewhere: ‘I cannot tell / what is unbearable in me / from what is opening.’ ” —Washington Post, “Best Poetry Collections of 2020”

“ ‘There are no / empty hopes. But knowing / what to hope for is steady / work,’ Klink writes. What she hopes for again and again in this expansive, remarkable volume, her fifth, is the ability to see the universe whole.” —New York Times

“Klink is a vatic poet, a seer not just of the body but of bodies in relationship to one another, bodies in relation to the natural world, to the universe both inner and outer . . . Perhaps more than any other poet writing today, Joanna Klink is the Romantic poet of our age, and like the great romantic poets, Wordsworth, Keats, Shelley, the narrator of The Nightfields is often walking through her poems, attuned to the silences and quiet murmurings of the world.” —New York Journal of Books

“In this collection Klink solidifies herself as a poet of lyric wonderment, angular beauty, and uncompromising vision. There is something of Merwin—and Strand—in Klink’s gestural approach to interrogating the self’s provisionality, with echoes of the deeply emotive, yet coolly delivered poems of Jon Anderson. At the center of Klink’s lyric resides the tension between profound emotional intensity and profound emotional delicacy.”—Poetry Northwest

“That grief is proof of love was something I needed to hear every day of 2020, and into 2021, and still and always. I read from The Nightfields most mornings for the vertiginous pleasure of scale, for the sense of intimacy and infinitude, in order to feel my insignificance in the world. Our relative insignificance, our like-it-or-not interconnectedness, Klink reminds us, is not such a bad thing to feel. And besides, it is a fact. Remember: ‘you are the brief errand of what was/given to you in unceasing splendor.’”—Poetry Daily

“Whatever we consider authentic ‘being’ to be, poetry can provide a vessel for rejoining it—especially poetry that refuses all but the most direct line to what is essential. This is what Klink accomplishes here in her beautiful fifth book, as she recalls the most elemental and fleeting gifts in our ephemeral lives…Klink’s ability to see deeply into things, whether in the made or natural world, is unusual for a poet who mines emotional experience with such relentlessness.”—Kenyon Review

“That clear, lyric voice (sometimes bordering on the austere) in these poems, that quietly observant sensibility, cycles through seasons, through the minutiae of the daily, recognizing that it is work to admit and open to the totality of life…Reading through poem after poem in The Nightfields is like standing at the lip of a clear, cold stream. I don’t know its true depth, and I don’t know how to swim. Night is falling fast, but the voice that beckons me to ford it is strangely reassuring.”—RHINO

“Now we can turn to Klink’s metaphysical sequence to get a different sort of visit to the earth work. Her poems do a tricky thing of being at once urgent and geologically slow (every breath and breeze is noticed, but time passes such that copper is ‘greening’ and stars ‘thicken’); the sequence is imbued with depth and color and all the possibilities of a pitch-black night. Before I leave, I should acknowledge my other half a mind: like a dutiful editor, I started The Nightfields at the beginning and found prior to ‘Night Sky’ several exquisite poems about the passage of time (‘Most weeks I am no more than the color of the walls / in the room where we sit’) and the liminal space between seasons (‘The bright key of morning. / The bay fanned with foam’) that make the quotidian nearly as beautiful as Turrell’s monument.”—Paris Review

“ ‘When I go toward you / it is with my whole life’—thus Joanna Klink opens her fifth collection, The Nightfields, with Rilke. [...] As we carry forward in her book of hours, Klink builds an understanding with our inevitable disappearance. Though the consciousness of the self disappears, she reminds us that there is a ‘heat born in you / that outlasts you, there are burning / circuits of stars’ and ‘More even / than your own life, you flow from what is.’ [...] Our diminishment is a return to the splendor of our substance.”—Seneca Review

“This is not a review of The Nightfields by Joanna Klink. Instead, this is a cento composed entirely of lines from within the collection. With a pencil in hand looking for ways into the world on the page, I noticed over and over that the book is already an analysis of itself. The poems are highly introspective, singularly and collectively. Instead of pointing to this and dissecting it and telling you what I think it means (to me), I invite you to allow the book to speak to you as it spoke (and speaks) to me, to us.”—St. Mark’s Poetry Project

“Klink writes with exquisite poignancy, an expansive and stark lyric that has become her signature in this collection. The Nightfields reminds us that ‘to want a simple life / might mean / to have given up / on expectation’ yet the collection offers us of the privilege of Klink’s discerning and sometimes ruthless eye on what it means to live from that expectation, to live fully among the wreckage and the triumph.”—Carmen Giménez Smith

“Joanna Klink’s The Nightfields has all the visionary lucidity and incisiveness that marks the true originality of her work. The subtlety of what she sees is matched by a language at once hospitable and unsettling. This book has the fluency of someone knowing and finding their way. These are remarkable poems.” —Adam Phillips

“Joanna Klink goes toward poetry with her whole life. To me, she is a landscape poet, who draws more than paints. Her poems contain stars and bone; hope and mercy; meteorology and friendship. Instead of plot, there is subplot, allowing language and feeling to run free. Perhaps there is a spiritual dimension, too, with a pilgrimage through cities and grasslands. In our prosaic age, Klink is a completely original poet—symbolic and vatic—rendering the best poems of her life.” —Henri Cole