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Hi! I'm Nadia Colburn—writer, teacher, yogi, activist

A Writer's Community, Praise for I Say the Sky, & Book Recommendations

Published 6 months ago • 9 min read

Dear Reader,

One of the things I really appreciate about this time of year is the way it can inspire us to connect (or reconnect) with our communities: loved ones, old friends, spiritual circles, extended family, and more.

This got me thinking about what "community" means to a writer and how community shapes the life and work of a writer.

Many people think of writing as a solitary activity, but for me it’s a deeply communal one.

Not only is language itself a historic, collective medium, but also, our writing connects us to other writers, other works. Like many writers, I’m a writer largely because I’m also an avid reader, and my writing has always been–and always will be–in conversation with the books I’ve read.

I never feel alone as I write; I feel the presence of the books I’ve read and loved throughout my life. They’re all with me as I work, think, feel, and process. After all, books have shaped my basic understanding of and orientation towards the world; they have offered me companionship, consolation, and also great delight, along my journey.

When I was getting ready to publish I Say the Sky, I needed to reach out to other writers and ask for “book blurbs,” or quotable descriptions of their experience with the book.

And I’ll be honest: there was a part of me that felt uncomfortable asking for these endorsements.

But then I realized that this was an exciting opportunity for me to tell other writers how much their work has meant to me and to share my work with them.

And I am so happy I didn’t let my discomfort stop me from reaching out: I was blown away by the kindness and generosity of my fellow writers and tremendously moved by the lovely things they had to say about I Say the Sky.

So today, I would like to share, with immense gratitude, what those writers said about I Say the Sky and also share my enthusiastic endorsement of each of these writers’ work. If you're looking for books to read over the holidays or still looking for holiday gifts for the book lovers in your life, I highly recommend books by each of these authors.

A friendly reminder: I Say the Sky is now available for purchase on Amazon here and through the press here. And for each copy of the book you buy, you also receive FREE entry into the book’s companion 7-Day New Year Meditation and Writing Practice (otherwise priced at $30)! You can sign up for the challenge (or sign up the friend you bought the book for!) here.

Are you gifting I Say the Sky to a loved one, friend, or other member of your community this holiday season?

Be sure to print out this printable PDF with details about the book's free companion 7-Day New Year Meditation and Writing Practice and include it in your gift package!

And now, without further ado, below you’ll find what some of my favorite writers have said about I Say the Sky

with love and gratitude,

Nadia

"From the opening poem and on through this glorious book, Nadia Colburn strikes the difficult balance between celebrating the splendor of the world we inhabit and acknowledging the grief and devastation that none of us can escape. As much a book of love songs as a book of elegies, I Say the Sky is a heart opening and mind sharpening collection."

~Camille T. Dungy


Camille T. Dungy

I highly recommend all of Camille Dungy’s poetry and prose. In particular, if you are interested in work that explores nature, the environment, and climate justice, I encourage you to pick up a copy of Camille’s most recent book, Soil: The Story of a Black Mother's Garden, a beautiful memoir about her complex relationship with the earth–and the way our society seeks to homogenize and control it–as well as her most recent poetry collections, Tropic Cascade and Smith Blue.

"Nadia Colburn's book of poems, I Say the Sky, describes a world both realistic and beautiful. Colburn writes clear and accessible lines that ring of thought amid action; of a mind and body charged to recognize and speak of more things than they knew possible outside of the self but from a self. Can the self be a thing, albeit a beautiful thing, that grows and does not simply strive or perfect? I am struck by how much these poems surprised me and led me to think and re-think, not with an end in mind, but with a world in mind. It's a heartening and strengthening collection, not sentimental in the least, which still manages, as some say of good poetry, 'to help us live our lives.' I Say the Sky will be a book read toward a meditative, calming effect, in which gratitude, sorrow, and surprise are interwoven, as they surely must be in actual readers' lives. I am grateful for this work and for the gift of these poems."

~Lisa Williams

Lisa Williams

Lisa Williams’ poems are at once precise and dream-like, full of beautiful imagery and music. There is so much in her work that inspires me. And I’m so deeply grateful to Lisa for choosing I Say the Sky for The University Press of Kentucky’s New Poetry & Prose Series. It was a great honor to have a poet whose work I admire select my book for publication.

“Nadia Colburn's book I Say the Sky is made of timely and urgent questions. ‘What is missing? In the house of my life.’ With skillful metacognition Colburn approaches the inexpressible, explores ephemerality, trauma, ecological devastation, and how everything connects to the quotidian. These poems are wonderfully awake to our unspeakable lives. She writes: ‘I want so badly to live sometimes I forget / that I am alive.’ In this collection Colburn couples gravity with gratitude and creates a bright infusion of healing and regeneration.”

~Laynie Browne

Laynie Browne

The author of fourteen incredible books, Laynie Browne is at once whimsical and serious, lyrical and experimental. Her poems explore women’s experiences, silence, and the remaking of traditional form, and they are a delight to read.

“In I Say the Sky, the poet sees our world with its obvious need of repair and our inability to agree on the name of that repair. In that space she goes after the crystalline beauty of delivering the lyric from inside the human heart as it presses its rhythm against the rhythm of our world, naming the precious things only a poet who values the present moment can know. What a wonderful collection Colburn has wrought.”

~Afaa M. Weaver


Afaa M. Weaver

Prolific poet, Daoist practitioner, and Cave Canem literary elder, Afaa Weaver explores deep questions of human experience, both looking expansively across cultures and history and also focusing in on his own unique experiences. His poems always move me. A Fire in the Hills is a passionate and powerful collection of poems about the African American experience and his The Plum Flower Dance is one of my favorites.

"The poems in I Say the Sky are both a hymn to what's lost and a hymnal for how to carry on. ‘We must do something,’ Nadia Colburn writes, and that writing is part of the something––as is the cataloging both of diminishment and plenty. ‘Teach me to pray anywhere,’ she says, guiding us to look for transcendence not only in ‘the cardinals singing at first dawn, / but also in the concrete parking lot / of the Everett Mall.’”

~Andrea Cohen


Andrea Cohen

Andrea Cohen’s poetry is a unique blend of wry and deeply serious. She is a poet who is precise with every word and dives deep into the human heart. Her poetry is one of our greatest teachers, and I turn to it often as a guide.

I Say the Sky distills ordinary passing moments of a world made striking, made memorable. But as the poet disperses such moments into the poems, that world is made strange, made unsayable. Whatever has been named vanishes into something else; whatever has been exiled returns on the next horizon: next line, next verse, next poem. In Colburn's poetics, a pinpoint of memory foreshadows an unshakable sense of dislocation, the strangeness of inhabiting a body and a world in which we can never be just one thing. All the while the ineffable, even the unbearable, runs to meet joy. Reading these poems, certain load-bearing words—stones, hands, a voice, the sky, to name a few—orchestrate a controlled music that surprises us and sends us back to read them again, and again. What more could one ask of poetry?”

~Annie G. Rogers


Annie G. Rogers

Annie Rogers writes about the languages of trauma and interweaves her background as a psychologist and psychoanalyst with her own personal experiences of trauma in her work. Rogers is one of the most insightful and compassionate writers I know. Her books helped me heal from my own trauma and taught me how to listen more deeply. I always recommend her work to people trying to understand and recover from traumatic experiences.

“Nadia Colburn has written a marvelous book of poetry that will appeal to poetry lovers everywhere. These poems speak to the human condition and its transitions and transformations, making meaning of life's difficulties and showing us how to turn them into celebrations. I recommend their imagery, beauty, and powerful metaphors to everyone.”

~Lewis Mehl-Madrona


Lewis Mehl-Madrona

Lewis Mehl-Madrona, who is of Cherokee and Lakota heritage, is a Stanford-trained doctor who brings together Western healing with Indigenous practices. His books taught me another way to listen and make sense of story and the healing process, and I incorporate what I learned from his books into many of my teachings. I highly recommend his transformative work.

“Colburn connects words to earth, body to family, and family to nature. Here, language is sacred; uttering a word, composing a line, writing a stanza is a prayer of joy even if the context is loss; even loss can be an occasion to be grateful. Colburn has given poetry a breath that revives it, that urges others to see deeper and reclaim their humanity.”

~Jimmy Santiago Baca


Jimmy Santiago Baca

Jimmy Santiago Baca’s work–both his poetry and prose–is some of the most inspiring I know. Largely self-educated when he was in prison as a young man, Baca emerged from some of the most difficult childhood and American experiences imaginable with love, self-acceptance, and a generous spirit, all of which he shares with and extends to others through his powerful books. His wonderful memoir tells his story, and his poetry has an openness and musicality that has deeply influenced my own work.

“The tender, fierce poems that populate I Say the Sky are poems that vow to be present: 'This is not a poem about escape / The great transition is not an escape / but a turn in which we meet the self / we may not want to meet.' These great transitions are momentous—birth and death—but they also exist in hours of quotidian caregiving that hum with meaning. Cutting carrots, reading a book aloud to a child, planting seeds, and even sitting in silent stillness demand the body's attention. The permeable, powerful female body, the (un)sung hero of this book, knows the generosity of speech, of gesture, of touch, of saying in all its bodily forms. In an act of communion with the world, I Say the Sky 'translates the spruce forest of [the] heart,' for all whose ears are open to hear.”

~Sasha Steensen


Sasha Steensen

Sasha Steensen’s work dances on the page. Her work is full of life, energy, and love. She explores the contradictions, challenges and triumphs of being a mother, poet, woman, cancer patient, cancer survivor, and more. Her work is profoundly inspiring.

“These [poems in I Say the Sky] are sharply-focused lyric meditations that memorably dramatize the simplicity and anguished complexity of the world and the heart that fully inhabits it.”

~Gregory Orr


Gregory Orr

Gregory Orr’s poetry has a clarity and vision that is unusual, and he has written some of the most illuminating books on the power of poetry to heal. As a young boy, he killed his brother in a freak hunting accident; from this tragedy, he has not only done his own deep soul searching, but also shared the process and the transformative power of poetry with his readers.

Thank you, again, to these extraordinary writers for their beautiful words of support.

PS: I hope you’ll consider ordering I Say the Sky on Amazon here or through the press here.

PPS: And don’t forget: for each copy of the book you buy, you also receive FREE entry into the book’s companion 7-Day New Year Meditation and Writing Challenge! You can sign up for the challenge (or sign up the friend you bought the book for!) here.

PPPS: If you are gifting I Say the Sky to someone, be sure to print out this printable PDF with details about the book's free companion 7-Day New Year Meditation and Writing Practice and include it in your gift package!

Hi! I'm Nadia Colburn—writer, teacher, yogi, activist

Author of The High Shelf and founder of Align Your Story writing school.

At Align Your Story Writing School, we bring traditional literary and creative writing studies together with mindfulness, embodied practices, and social and environmental engagement. Join a community of over 25,000 other mindful writers. Get the tools and community to write your best work.

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