LANA K. W. AUSTIN
Poet, Writer, and Author of the Full-Length Poetry Collection from Iris Press
An ecclesiastical thread runs through this fine book, in that everything has its season, and everything—including joy and grief—goes together. Austin’s poems achieve through their own high and lonesome registers what we expect from the best blues or hillbilly music: the human experience in this weary world is affirmed, even dignified. I am glad these refreshing, bone and blood-deep poems are in the world.
Walt Whitman once advised young poets to "Be outrageous! Be outrageous! But not
too damned outrageous." Lana Austin's Blood Harmony has exactly that balance of
old and new, of the immediate and the distant, of challenge and embrace. Her
Kentucky landscape shows as familiar as a family heirloom and the music of her poems
is as clear as a harpsichord in a meadow. This first collection reminds us how the soul is always seeking, in its dream of place, the final character of one's identity, one's home. The Gospel says abide and these poems are enactments with bold, electric, convincing authority. Lana
Austin's is a new country music worthy of a great readership. Let it be.
Attentive to history, place, pitch and character, the poems of Lana Austin’s Blood Harmony find bonds in music that dovetail with chords in family and community. Her lovely and passionate verses interweave precise knowledge of traditional mountain and CW music with marvelous invention, which renders a mandolin “an amulet of sound” and describes listeners to Emmylou Harris as “embered . . . into incandescence.” These poems are handmade and heart-carved with a luthier’s canny expertise. Anyone wishing to go, as her opening poem invites “In Search of the Wild Dulcimer” need look no farther than this collection where kindred sounds blend beyond description. In thrall to depths of the spirit, her poems are also sweetly free. Blood Harmony will make you sigh and sob, clap and stomp.
Maurice Manning, Author of One Man’s Dark, The Common Man, and Bucolics
Author of Little Boats, Unsalvaged, The Wick of Memory: New and Selected Poems, and Hunting Men: Reflections on a Life in American Poetry
R. T. Smith, Recipient of the 2014 Weinstein Prize in Poetry and Author of Outlaw Style
Author of the novel Like Light, Like Music (West Virginia University Press 2020), Lana K. W. Austin’s poems and short stories have recently been featured in Mid-American Review, Sou’wester, Columbia Journal, The Pinch, Appalachian Heritage, etc. Winner of the 2019 Alabama State Poetry Society Book of the Year Award, a 2019 Hackney Poetry Award & the 2018 Words & Music Poetry Award, Austin has been a finalist and semi-finalist in multiple other competitions, including the James Wright Poetry Award, the Crab Orchard Review First Book Award, the Zone 3 Book Award, the American Short Fiction Award, the Still: The Journal Fiction Award, and the Machigonne Fiction Award. Born and raised in rural Kentucky, Austin studied creative writing at both Hollins University and the University of Mary Washington and has an MFA from George Mason University. Her full-length poetry collection, Blood Harmony, is from Iris Press (2018) and her chapbook, In Search of the Wild Dulcimer, is from Finishing Line Press (2016). Austin currently resides in Alabama, where she teaches writing in the English department at the University of Alabama in Huntsville.