Telling heartfelt stories and extracting the wisdom from the margins of our culture is a pleasure for this author. But squeezing the juices of those stories into a poem in which each word is chosen for its particular place in a phrase and each phrase has its unique placement in the poem – THAT’S sheer joy! And then to choose from among those poems, to organize them into a meta-story book, and to find a publisher for that book… well, as they used to say in a certain beer commercial, “It don’t get no better’n that!”
Praise for Mortal Beings
If the title wasn’t signal enough, the opening poem of this collection warns us that what will follow is a litany of loss, an attempt to understand is becoming was, a wrestling with the realization that every moment we’re alive, we’re one moment closer to death. And it’s true: these poems speak of dying friends, lost opportunities, the grim exhalation that is a last breath. But over the course of the book, we cycle back to realizing the wonderful gift that is each breath, that is the movement between light and darkness. It’s a memorable book.
Tod Marshall, WA State Poet Laureate, 2016-2018
Mortal Beings calls us to our senses: our scent, our touch, our in-bodyness. The lines, just this side of spare, describe with an unflinching kindness those aching places of life—the ones inhabited by the homeless, the dying, the bereaved. Thoroughly a witness, Trenshaw states simply “I cannot cringe away.” Her poems are a lucid testimony to an early intuition: everything, absolutely everything in this world, is “made of holy stuff.”
Lorraine Healy, Mostly Luck (2018), The Habit of Buenos Aires (2010)
Our journeys through life consist of rushing from moment to moment, often missing the minuscule transitions from is to was. Cynthia Trenshaw’s poetry gifts us with suspension in those transitions as she dives into their colors and feels them stroke naked skin. We wonder at death’s “sleight of hand.” We hesitate on the lip of the ant lion’s tranquil sandy trap and then fall into transformation. Reading Trenshaw’s work takes us to the world between inhale and exhale and changes our mortal lives in magical ways.
Marian Blue, editor, Sunbreak Press
A mystic for modern times, Cynthia Trenshaw offers us poems, unflinching and tender, that evoke the liminal spaces between life and death, seen and ignored, spoken and unspoken. Trenshaw helps us see what connects: breath, blood, earth, memory. Here in the intimate fringes of existence, barriers dissolve and death is an old acquaintance. Deeply observant and keenly felt, these poems confide that in the same moment, one can dwell in both contentment and sorrow.
Kristin Brace, winner of the 2018 Wheelbarrow Poetry Prize (Emerging)
Cynthia Trenshaw is a poet rejoicing in the uniqueness of the ordinary. In this volume, her gritty melodies communicate the richness of birth and death, transience and permanence, and, finally, profound and loving acceptance. Readers are always deeply enriched by the clarity of Trenshaw’s visions. She writes with what I consider a hallmark of great poetry: the ending that focuses, refocuses, awakens, and invites.
Rabbi Ted Falcon, PhD, author of Finding Peace Through Spiritual Practice;
Seattle-based spiritual therapist, teacher, author, rabbi of the Interfaith Amigos
Cynthia Trenshaw’s poems are like listening to jazz whose modulations reach surprising corners of language and a wide sweep of experience that will have you looking forward to the next territory she courageously enters to use her craft. You will not be bored, rather lifted into a kaleidoscope of lyrical experience that you will recognize as deeply human with a great heart for the times we live in.
Judith Adams, author of “I wanna Die Nice and Easy,” “Love Letters Only,” and “Crossing the Line;”
a speaker for Humanities Washington, 2017-2020