Season of Dares leans into fragments of the scriptures, narratives and mythologies of a Korean adoptee’s childhood in the rural American West. Fearlessly, it revisits and explores the physical and spiritual landscapes of those communities and the tensions between the impulses that shaped them – violence and tenderness, stoicism and sentimentalism, self-reliance and belief in divine providence.
“It takes wisdom to know that ‘Faith is not feast / but desire, not beauty of the table but what drags us starving there.’ Indeed, Leah Silvieus is an enviably wise poet. Like Hopkins, she knows the divine lies in the material world—in paper birch, chicken wire, and headband halos. And like Dickinson, she knows the poetic line can be a powerful and immortal incision. Silvieus knows that, like the good girl on the choir bus, some quiet poems are also ‘glittering like a scream.’ Don’t be fooled by the quiet, exquisite craft of this work: Season of Dares is a brutal, true, and fearless book.”
—JENNIFER CHANG, author of Some Say the Lark
“Leah Silvieus’ Season of Dares is full of elegies and rehearsals for resurrections. The natural world radiates meaning here, where pearl-bright larvae glisten in a plum’s rotten core and a girl finds her hair in a wasp’s burning nest. Nature brims with a benign cruelty, a terrible beauty, and makes us question who we perform our mercies for. Silvieus’s lines move the way a prayer slides across the mind, and her images linger, shimmer, last. Silvieus reminds us it’s not where we’re from but where we’re made that counts, and in these poems we are made and remade with cottonwoods, the shrieks of grackles, lilies forced to bloom with hairdryers, the late season’s burn pile awaiting a match.”
—TRACI BRIMHALL, author of Saudade
“The poems in Leah Silvieus’ Season of Dares are breathtaking high-wire ballets: muscular, musical, elegant. I am in awe of this poet’s deep command of and respect for language—a language so palpable it takes me to that rarefied place where I can actually taste the words. For Silvieus, language is a vehicle for memory and devotion. ‘Faith,’ she says, ‘is not feast but desire, not beauty of the table but what drags us starving there—’ For the reader, these poems are faith and feast, beauty and hunger. They will fill your mouth with flowers.”
—MAUREEN SEATON, author of Fisher