Paradise Graveyards: Introducing New Poems by Crystal Willer and Sara Guest

There is a common notion that time heals all wounds; there is an equally common notion that love can heal and even save us—most importantly, perhaps, from ourselves.

I am sure there is plenty of truth to these notions; I am also sure that they are often untrue. Petrarch long ago showed us that love and time can be weapons as easily as they can be salves.

Crystal Willer and Sara Guest are two poets who also understand this. Part of what I particularly admire in these sets of poems in the way they work with time, the way they allow time into their poems so that they stretch well beyond the poetic "moment" that the lyric mode more comfortably inhabits.

In doing so, these poems disclose something both moving and unnerving about the ongoing experience of love and loss—each one a world of its own edges and intimacies, its own music.

It can be lonely when you are given the time and love that you believe should heal you—and you are not healed. These poems don't attempt to lead us out of their difficult worlds with their ghosts and their hauntings, but they know how to live there better than most, making "paradise graveyards" (Willer) that are "overwhelmingly alive" (Guest).

Ultimately, what I can tell you about these strange, wondrous, and (why not say it?) beautiful new poems by Crystal Willer and Sara Guest is that I have found them to be good company. You reading this: here they are, a click away. I hold them out to you.

—Mary Szybist



Mary Szybist is the author of Granted (2003) and Incarnadine (2013), winner of National Book Award for Poetry. She is also the recipient of a Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers' Award, an NEA fellowship, a Pushcart Prize in 2012, a Witter Bynner Fellowship, and residencies at the MacDowell Colony and the Rockefeller Foundation's Bellagio Center. She is an associate professor of English at Lewis & Clark in Portland, Oregon, and is a member of the faculty at the Warren Wilson College MFA Program for Writers.