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New Chapbook Release: Cherie Hunter Day's The Rattle Inside

It is probably no coincidence that the Northern Californian poet and visual artist Cherie Hunter Day has received the 2022 Touchstone Award for Distinguished Books for her Miles Deep in a Drum Solo (Backbone Press, 2022) in the very same week her new chapbook, The Rattle Inside (Half Day Moon Press No. 6) is being released. In fact, for fans of Day's writing, it is yet another case of external recognition of the obvious, that Day's work continues to engage.

Whether one is a longstanding reader of Day's poetry or being introduced to it here for the first time, there is plenty of room for all to chime in as active readers, and sing along:

we all join in

on the second chorus ----

Indian summer

(from apology moon, Red Moon Press, 2013)

It is probably also no coincidence that "The Rattle Inside" is being released on Earth Day. Looking again at the above quoted poem, it can be said that we ring most true, when in tune with our environment. This is the case however long we have become estranged from it, and even if from the most local of microclimates. (And Northern California and the Bay Area do have their microclimates.) How Day approaches this fast-changing Holocene epoch will be further addressed below following a brief survey of her work involving how her poems contract and expand.

A feature of Day's condensed poems is that they tend to contract into atomic kernels or expand into mystery . . . Examples of those that contract:

raw umber the hill's shorthand for want *


lost wages for what salt has to say

(for want, Ornithopter Press, 2017)


before us the wind inside milkweed

(apology moon, Red Moon Press, 2013)

An example of one that expands:

tidal bay the softer side of us

(for want, Ornithopter Press, 2017)

Poems that both contract and expand:

that one kid

with a plastic whistle ----

evening heat

(Miles Deep In a Drum Solo, Backbone Press, 2022)


erratic boulders

from retreating glaciers

a large part

of the conversation

getting to yes

(for want, Ornithopter Press, 2017)


an intact sheet

of glow in the dark stars

our grown son

(apology moon, Red Moon Press, 2013)


The new collection, The Rattle Inside, both contracts and expands as well, but all the while probing new ground:









Additionally, readers already familiar with Day's terse poetry and layered prose may also be aware of her sketches and collages. Happily, the front and back covers of The Rattle Inside contain a series of her collages in miniature. If I still have copies of Mariposa, of which Day was editor, it is in part due to her nature sketches that graced the covers and pages of each issue. Day even has a book of marine life drawings: Life on Intertidal Rocks: a guide to marine life of the rocky north Atlantic coast (Nature Study Guild Publishers, 1987).

While Day's work has celebrated nature's many faces and both the fact that it is and has very much to do with us (as one may sense in the above quoted "tidal bay" poem), it has also mourned its losses. This is illustrated in the above quoted "raw umber" poem and in the unsettling starkness of

dry lakebeds pay-per-view

However, the mourning does not leave us hopeless. If anything, it stirs us to action, as implied in one poem in the new collection, by invoking, or provoking rather, the "rattle inside" . . .


* Yet another happy coincidence was when I first encountered Day's one-line poem "raw umber". It was when it received the Haiku Now! Award for 2014 in the Contemporary Haiku category. My own entry received the award for the Innovative Haiku category, but it was an additional honor to have our poems honored in the same space.


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