Like the burgeoning sounds of morning from which Dawn Chorus takes its name, these poems emerge from the darkness of urban isolation into brilliant wilderness. More than half of the world’s humans now live in cities, waking to the rhythm of artificial light, lulled by the hum of machines. We sense that some important part of us has atrophied but cannot name it.
Dawn Chorus is a warning and a celebration. Pettway’s lines remind us how deeply we harm ourselves when we turn away from nature and invite us to revel in the rediscovery of our wildest selves.
"The Alice Pettway of Dawn Chorus is an urban fabulist and pastoral realist—a modern-day Arcimboldo who rebuilds herself repeatedly in these poems, at the fulcrum between outworn civilization and fragile wilderness. Dawn Chorus is an escape from denial: it refuses to be cut off any longer. Even as the city shapes these poems, nature sings its way back to the foreground. Without merganser and yarrow, without a rebalancing, we’re undone." —William Pierce, Coeditor, AGNI
IN THE PRESS
Reading Station Lights is like taking a slow hike through all the landscapes of the earth … these poems survive each new wilderness, while always keeping underfoot the path back home.
AUTHOR of How the Weather Was and Other Places
What sets [Pettway's poems] apart more than any other virtue is the subtle but insistent sense of irony they convey—one of the rarest and most valuable aspects of any art, but especially of poetry.
Pettway's beautiful sequences bring shocking clarity to the humanity in everyday moments. Highly recommend.
"The Dead of Winter" and "Sacrifice"
"Known for publishing important new writers early in their careers” (PEN), AGNI, founded in 1972, discovers stories, poems, and essays that map our pressured interiority and respond in necessary ways to the bedeviled state of the world. Six contributors have gone on to win the Nobel Prize in Literature."
Photo credit: Una Zhu
Alice Pettway is the author of The Time of Hunger (2017), Moth (2019), Station Lights (2021) and Dawn Chorus (2023). Her poetry has appeared in AGNI, The Bitter Oleander, The Colorado Review, Poet Lore, Rattle, River Styx, The Southern Review, The Threepenny Review and many other respected publications. She is a former Chulitna artist fellow and Art Omi: Writers resident. Pettway lives and writes near Seattle, Washington.