top of page

ANNA ODESSA LINZER

Anna Odessa Linzer has always lived along the Salish Sea. Her deep connection with the Pacific Northwest is reflected in both her poems and her fiction. Her novel Ghost Dancing (Picador/St. Martin’s Press) received an American Book Award in 1999. Her novels Blind Virgil, Dancing on Water, and A River Story were produced as the handbound, limited-edition Home Waters by fine-arts publisher Marquand Books. A River Story was adapted and performed as a two-person play, and her poems have been featured in gallery and museum installations as well as on wine bottles.

As a bookbinder and designer, Linzer received a Pacific Northwest Booksellers Award for Excellence in 1975. One of her sculptural handbound books received an award at the Bellevue Arts Museum Arts Fair in 1976. Her nonfiction work received a Terry McAdams Award in 2000. She has been a copyeditor for PARIS, LA; a fiction editor of Raven Chronicles; and a chair of the PEN West Literary Awards. She has often worked on environmental protection and restoration issues, including founding one of the first land trusts in Washington State.

SEASON UNLEASHED IS A NEW COLLECTION OF POEMS 

by American Book Award-winning novelist and poet Anna Odessa Linzer. Anna evokes the dramatic yet subtle beauty of the Salish Sea. A Northwest native, her poems reveal a keen awareness born of the familiarity of paths and beaches she walks daily. Memories surface, braiding her heritage with life on the Suquamish Port Madison Indian Reservation, her years on Shaw Island, in the rainforest along the Hoh River, and in the isolation of Dabob Bay. These poems and prose passages are a kaleidoscope of seasons unleashed. A long-distance, cold-water swimmer, Anna glides through the seasons in the cool blue-green waters she calls home, inviting us to join her in her powerful, deep immersion.

corvid14.png
SQUASH PULP AND SEEDS

An offering 

on the fence rail.

Orange against grey cedar, grey sky, grey water.

Black crow, all angle and strut and jump,

and another.

How quickly the rail is bare again.

#seasonunleashed

website-3-crow-background1280-1350.png

HOT OFF THE PRESS

Season Unleashed
Books

SEASON UNLEASHED IN REVIEW

"‘This is the beauty I want to give you,’ writes Anna Odessa Linzer at one point in Season Unleashed. With the acute sensibilities of the cold-water swimmer she is, Linzer’s formidable gifts as a poet and writer immerse us in the seasonal cycles of what it means to be fully alive along the shores of the Salish Sea. The verdant language, sometimes bearing the shadow play of loss and longing, incarnates our green world. To borrow from Keats, here we have a writer’s pointed courage to honor her loyalty to the most difficult beauty of all — ‘the holiness of the heart’s affections.’"

MIKE DILLON, 

author of Departures: Poetry and Prose on the Removal of Bainbridge Island's Japanese Americans After Pearl Harbor 

Anna Odessa Linzer’s poetry echoes the depth of the Pacific Northwest rainforest. She reminds us

that we are time, we are fish, river, seed, rain, sky, moon and “all the seasons dancing through us.”

DOROTHÉE PERRET,

publisher and editor of PARIS LA

Season Unleashed is full of deeply resonating truth and beauty about the natural world around us and the gifts of memory that tie it and those we love to us. Those familiar with the Pacific Northwest will find joyful recognitions (and discoveries). Those unfamiliar with the Pacific Northwest will find joyful discoveries (and recognitions). There is storytelling in the poetry, and poetry in the storytelling. Gratitude and appreciation, once again, to Anna Odessa Linzer.”

BRIAN LYNCH,
Shaw Island poet

“Anna Linzer’s poetry is absolutely magnificent. It breathes from the earth and waters of the Pacific Northwest. Joyful, painful—and always beautiful. Her poems want to be read over, and over and over again. Season Unleashed is a gift to be treasured.”

ELIZABETH HUDDLE,

retired artistic director, Intiman Theatre, Seattle, and Portland Center Stage, Portland, Oregon

Slipping into a side path, off the dirt road, my feet touch the soft / cushion of deep moss, my heart touches silence and beauty, / a world that has been there—and not there—all these months.
—Anna Odessa Linzer, “Off Trail”


Season Unleashed is a collection of new poems by award-winning novelist and poet Anna Odessa Linzer. Published by Empty Bowl Press, with a cover photo by the author, the book is beautifully rendered. To describe these poems as a celebration of place, of the Pacific Northwest, is true, but inadequate. It is an extended love letter to the places Linzer has called home, to her people, and, through her poetry, to us. In her preface, Linzer reflects: “These poems and prose passages are a kaleidoscope of seasons that I have danced through. That have danced through me. That I carry with me.” This collection is a Master Class in attention, in appreciation; it is an invitation to experience what it feels like to listen and tune oneself to nature. To a life unleashed.


I slipped into the poems as one enters the water—toes first, evaluating, and then proceeding—a contemplative wading or an exuberant plunge. However I arrived, the experience was the same: immersive. Her poems are imbued with the colors, characters, scents and sounds so recognizable to those of us who live in this area: birds, plants and trees are known and named, affectionately, like family. Her description of the Hoh is strong enough to make me question my memories—to compel my return to notice what I missed amidst the deluge. But I do recall the moments of awe, as she relates in “The Hoh”: “At the openings / to the river’s song, sun flashes off the water, splashes through / branches, lighting scales of bark, lady fern, deer fern, sword / fern, salal, and vine maple. . . . I feel the / tender tendrils of spruce roots stir against my heart.”


Emotional resonance is a through-line. In her world, troubles are not “The Troubles” of Ireland, but the manageable, or at least distractible, troubles of her grandchildren. After an outing at the beach, of witnessing “the sky blooms two adult eagles . . . teachers in a dancing diving fishing / school” for their brood, “the Troubles sigh and / fall into a deep slumber, dreaming us all into the evening.” There is also the quiet, inconsolable trouble that Linzer captures with spare grace in “Flowers and Moons,” the title a nod to the epigraph that prompted it: “Walking in moon’s light / I seek white fragrant flowers / For fresh covid graves.”


The poems are grouped by seasons; opening with Spring, of course, and a “False Start”—an experience so familiar—the memory of which is still a bit tender. But perhaps Spring always feels a bit tenuous. Yesterday’s high of 57 followed by a low of 36. Linzer captures that in-between sensibility in “Last of the Sky:” “Winter weary fern / bent, broken, flattened / against the forest floor. / Above, tender blossom and leaf: / Indian plum, wild currant, ocean spray.” This dynamic plays out in our families, as well. In “Perfections,” Linzer writes: “I look at my granddaughters / and think, / Where did you come from? / you beauties, / you perfections. / How can this be?”


“The Girl Who Always Thought It Was Summer” is the season opener for Summer: Linzer at five, sighted and reported to her mother by her best friend: “a little girl in the snow in a swimsuit and a bathing / cap, small bare feet.” “Water, Breath” is a poem that distills the experience of Summer; it would be enough if it only consisted of the last line:
   

coiled ribbons of kelp
caught against the dock
heartbeat of water
grey skies
grey bay
touched only
by green fingers of fir branches
soft breath of breeze
call of a gull
alive, alive, alive.


“Northwest Endless Summer” is the lead-in to Fall, an acknowledgment of changing climate patterns and her associated “unease,” as the sun, “relentless in its giving” extends into “the white light of October.” Still—disquiet aside—I lingered on the poem’s opening lines, recalling, imagining the abundance: “Summer split full open in July, spilling tomatoes and blossoms, / washing in warm water that brightly holds fractured sunlight by / day, ribbons of moonlight by night.” In “Almost Forgetting,” I hear a reminder of the power of presence, of the deep engagement in an activity that dispels, if only temporarily, discontent and the stress of things we can’t control: “. . . I feel the dark bats of discontent / fly from the window of the attic / I call my mind. / Only golden yellow / only green / only the gift of soil / and rain and forest / and something as pure and bright / and unknowable in its trueness / as love.”


LINZER: “THESE POEMS AND PROSE
PASSAGES ARE A KALEIDOSCOPE OF
SEASONS THAT I HAVE DANCED
THROUGH. THAT HAVE DANCED
THROUGH ME. THAT I CARRY WITH ME.”


In “Within a Season,” Winter arrives “Corpse-heavy and still as death / the grey laden sky presses down / on flat waters reflecting grey back to grey, / as if the thrust of winter against the fading fall / had drained all color, like blood, / from the beach, from the world, from the heavens.” For me, this is the season of wondering, of questions without answers, a sensibility Linzer shares in “December’s Totem.” Observing a group of cormorants standing on pilings, she writes: “Yellow beaks reach skyward. / Wings open wide, giving breasts to the sun. // What ancient silent prayer, what pleading is this? // If we spoke the same language still. . .” In “Snow, A Week and Counting,” weather humor and delightful imagery provide relief: “Fog rises from the pond, / as if the snow and ice / had taken wing, / or as if the pond was snowing upward / to the heavens / to replenish clouds, surely dry and empty now. . . .”


Winter, and this collection, conclude, as begun [in her Preface], in dance. “The Seasons Dancing Through Us” sets the stage: “The set design is changed: the play of yellow and golds is lit with / low muted light. . . .” Linzer sees the change of scene and characters as “a traveling act,” observing “the set here will / change and change again in anticipation and imagination, until all / that remains is the empty stage, and shards of winter's cold, clear / light and stark vestiges of the season’s glory litter the sight lines. / Yet even the darkest shapes silently hold next year’s story in bud / and branch, water and sky, heavy dark loom of earth. . . . we already dream the unimaginable return. A return / that is never a return. Always new.” Linzer’s poems are a reminder of what is essential, what is worth attending to: the play of light, the complexity of the forest and its multitudes, the cycle of seasons, our core relationships, the dreams and the dancing. Reading this collection has been a call to attention, to consideration of how I would “spend my days,” as Annie Dillard put it. I find it amusing? ironic? that one of my garden nemeses (thistles) headlines a poem so joyful, so full of being. I imagine myself, as Linzer imagines the scene in “Thistles,” a spring-fed pond, my day filled with “cattails and tree frogs and yellow irises.” Season Unleashed is my prompt to find the poetry in the wild, invasive things in my life. This perspective, this possibility . . .“Just in time. Just on time.”

NINA BUROKAS,

writer and educator for Raven Press Chronicles

In The Press
paintingofAnna27.png
Bio

OTHER ANNA ODESSA LINZER BOOKS

Reading of Ghost DancingAnna Linzer
00:00 / 31:12
No events at the moment
Anna Linzer.jpg

Monday, September 23 | 7–9 pm

BIMA Curated Conversations: Anna Odessa Linzer - Season Unleashed

Anna Odessa Linzer will give a reading at the Bainbridge Island Museum of Art featuring poems from Season Unleashed, published by Empty Bowl Press, discussion and reception after. 

images.png

Bainbridge Island
Museum of Art

550 Winslow Way East Bainbridge Island, WA 98110

News & Events
Contact
bottom of page