Main Street Rag
Carefully crafted, beautifully written, these poems are a bridge indeed between this world and the one that shimmers just beyond us. In one poem, the narrator is a small child trying to capture the moon in her mirror; when that fails, she catches it in a net of words, and that is what Nester does throughout this book in poem after gorgeous heart-breaking poem. These are poems that "sing for the joy of being heard."
~Barbara Crooker, author of Les Fauves and Barbara Crooker: Selected Poems
Robbi Nester’s poems in Narrow Bridge are either huge in scope as they needle at the very meaning of existence or they’re faded snapshots sharpened by language into clear renderings of a girl’s life. Once you read a Nester metaphor, you can’t imagine any other way to see a thing: knees like doorknobs or mute as the inside of a bell or the tongue… a bathmat in the red and white sauna of the mouth. Indeed, the imagery in Narrow Bridge will linger with you— Nester, like the leviathan of this collection’s first poem, singing the world into being.
~Sonia Greenfield, author of Letdown
In Robbi Nester’s Narrow Bridge, we are urged to be more open and fearless— Consider how a mirror tipped toward the sky captures the moon, if fleetingly; how “The voice of the bird/ in the maple/ is bigger than his body.” There are still passageways we can widen, if only we allowed wonder to make a bridge between our sense of fixity, and that refuge and home we could make again in each other.
~ Luisa A. Igloria, author of The Buddha Wonders if She is Having a Mid-Life Crisis and Ode to the Heart Smaller than a Pencil Eraser
“In a style meditative, lyrical, succinct and spare, Robbi Nester turns her poet’s seeing eye
and hearing ear, perked for the intriguing, very much towards a world full of “others”—bees, binturongs, muskrats, sea lions, luna moths, swallowtails, orchids, seventeen-year locusts, the Bedouin in the desert, the dead—in ways that respect their otherness, yet always touch our human selves. The self is here, too, born out of the “meager means” of a childhood—with a “grim gargoyle” of a father “full of fury”—yet, learning “how to take / the little that I had / making it more than suffice.” These are poems lit by metaphors and codas of startling beauty and rightness. A seal with its eyes shut spins in place: “calm face composed, resembling a dead pharaoh / wrapped tight within his gold / sarcophagus, entering / the next world.” For that Bedouin whose desert is like the sea: “Far away, the surf rises / arched wings of the angel, / messenger of the desert God, / whose silence contains everything.” There is joy here at being in the center of “everything that is,” hardly able to sleep “in all this brightness,” joy in the hands that “can close / the circuit between body /and mind,” in the hand that can, indeed, write “it all down.”
~Judy Kronenfeld, author of Bird Flying through the Banquet
“Open Other-Wise and enter Robbi Nester’s acutely observed world. There are two places to look for the poem—inside one’s self or outside one’s self. The best poets begin one place and reach the other, as Nester does in “The Seal”: I watched one spin in place/ eyes closed, as I did once at 5,/ falling in a dizzy heap to watch/the room spin, the familiar/turning alien but quickly taking shape/ . . .
I admit my favorite section is the third entitled Me; it is here that Nester turns her laser gaze to the brutal terrain of childhood and the poems that emerge are clear, startling, unforgettable, and necessary. The poem “Labor Day,” about her teen-aged job in an aquarium, prefigures her future: couldn’t keep quiet/ if customers/ or bosses were wrong./ I never changed,/ whatever job I was doing—/ still telling people/ what they didn’t/want to hear. Now so many years later, Nester is still on the job, but it is the proper work of the poet to tell the human village the stories they don’t want, but need, to hear.”
~Donna Hilbert, author of Gravity: New and Selected Poems
A Likely Story
Moon Tide Press
Robbi Nester's poems are like a magical realist romp, filled with flying girls, rats the size of goats, haunted TV sets, the golden demon god of capitalism, and orchestras playing the world into being. These are tall tales and myths, apocalypses and gothic parables, but at their core the impulse is as much lyrical as narrative, as much California pastoral as spooky magic. Nester is a naturalist of the unnatural, and whether she is simply describing the thriving life inside a pond or spinning out urban legends, you are going to enjoy these likely stories.
~Tony Barnstone, author of Beast in the Apartment
At the center of a Robbi Nester poem is the image, clearly and directly rendered. There is wonderful musicality in her language, but after reading her work, I'm left with the after images of a girl floating away on the breeze and bats in olive trees. Her world is a mysterious place where image becomes truth.
~John Brantingham, author of The Green of Sunset: Poems
Whether one is nimble and supple enough to actually practice the fifteen yoga positions that form the subjects of the poems in Robbi Nester’s Balance, one will discover that these poems do what both yoga and the best poetry have always done: take one deeply within the confines of an experience while simultaneously expanding one’s awareness of the limitlessness of that very same experience. Balance is both deeply moving and truly enlightening.
~R. H. W. Dillard, author of What Is Owed the Dead
The Liberal Media Made Me Do It!
With the many forms of entertainment and distraction open to us, National Public Radio and PBS television may be the ones most favored by writers. The quiet confiding voice of radio sees us through our commutes, educates, and amuses us. We feel that we know the hosts on such shows as All Things Considered, RadioLab, This American Life, Prairie Home Companion, Snap Judgment, and that they could be friends, sharing our interests and sensibilities. Their voices accompany us as we go about our daily business, fixing breakfast, drinking our coffee, driving in to work, and they are there for us again when we return home, welcoming us with news of what has unfolded while we were otherwise occupied. For its part, Public television becomes a trusted sanctuary from crass commercials, laugh tracks, unfunny comedies rising in volume as they grow more empty in content. We start with shows like Sesame Street, Electric Company, Mr. Rogers, Reading Rainbow and continue on to Frontline, The Nightly News, and the many guilty pleasures of adult Anglophiles, such as Masterpiece Theater and Mystery. Our national tragedies and triumphs, the odd idiosyncratic stories of individuals, the stuff of our daily lives and explorations all appear here, care of the diligent reporters of our national media. It is wonderful to realize that in some sense we are all one, listening or watching alone in the dark, but part of a larger tribe. This may be the closest thing we can experience to unanimity and belonging in this fractured land.
~Robbi Nester, Editor