Donna Henderson
The Eddy Fence

2011 Oregon Book Award Finalist

2011 Oregon Book Award Finalist

Donna Henderson’s new collection traces the contours of the ”eddy fence” where love and loss meet. In poems that confront a mother’s illness, a forest’s destruction, and the struggles to seed new life, she discovers a difficult beauty and passage to healing. Here we encounter a restless intelligence in dialogue with itself, seeking to enter the world more entirely through deeper and deeper seeing.

ISBN: 978-0-9821066-0-0
Paperback: $15
Publication date: October 1, 2009

Donna Henderson is the author of two previous chapbook collections of poems, of which the first, Transparent Woman, was a finalist for the 1997 Oregon Book Award in Poetry. Her poems and essays have appeared widely in journals, anthologies and other venues, and have received numerous recognitions, including two Pushcart Prize nominations.  Raised in Oregon’s Willamette Valley, Donna received a B.A. in Education from the University of Massachusetts, and holds both an M.S.W. from Portland State University and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Warren Wilson College. She is a practicing psychotherapist, teaches creative writing at Willamette University, performs with the piano and poetry performance trio Tonepoem of which she is a co-founder, and lives with her husband, Rich Sutliff, on a farm in Oregon’s Luckiamute watershed.

Praise for The Eddy Fence

“Though the forest be gone, still ‘the woods were in the song.’ So Henderson describes the thrush, singing on, like her, the once ‘green and cool surround’ nothing now but a naked clear-cut hill, whose logging and loss is paralleled by her mother’s dying. In the transit of these light-filled, sensuous poems, an acute consciousness turns mourning to praise in large-hearted lines—‘spacious…enough to hold all the trees / and their absence, and every other thing.’”
–Eleanor Wilner

“…strong and moving, remarkably poised in tone and unified as the expression of a distinct voice. Every poem in it needs to be there, the reader believes, listening to a consciousness meditating on loss in relationships with the human and non-human, and negotiating ways to affirm life, nevertheless.”
–Joan Aleshire

“…remarkable…Its music is quiet, its intelligence is omni-present. The book has tremendous range in topic—nature, relationship, loss, spirituality.”
–Karen Brennan


Excerpt from The Eddy Fence


We wake up as the darkness begins
giving way, first to an indigo

glow like laundry bluing,
phosphorescent and implausibly dense.

Shades of trees appear, then trees,
then a dreamy, scintillant

stillness unfurls as light, as landscape
under a spell. A fat sleekness

blisters and thickens the porch; in the pasture
grass blades bow down in glass sleeves.

The woods are themselves and not
themselves in their subtle glister,

the way a truly glamorous woman,
my grandmother used to say (charm bracelets rustling),

conceals every seam and trace
of her artifice, leaving pure effect.

Inside, a chef on T.V. makes aspic
while we wait for the forecast.

One strives for the clearest, thinnest
gel, he is saying; one wants to illuminate

one’s terrine, not to thicken it!
And as he spreads his glaze, I see the soul

rise from its loaf and lay its glossy
immaterial bliss across that surface of meat &

salt with its scallion fleur-de-lis,
making it marvelous.

As the world is, today– as it was
in the beginning, that last instant

water, matter and light were one,
each distinct, not yet separate.