In this brooding and daring collection of lyric prose set on the lush prairie of eastern Kansas, writer and naturalist Christopher Cokinos explores the dangers of falling too much in love with the outer world as a way of escaping a deeply fraught marriage. In landscapes both broken and bountiful, he considers the sustainable environment and the sustainable psyche while uncovering secrets and fears in order to find a hopeful, balanced self. Moving to the mountains of the West, Cokinos muses on the role of art itself in making a life worth living, discovering that art can move us as much as lovers and the land. This book grounds the whole of the self in nature, in time, in bodies both sexual and contemplative.
In language afire, Christopher Cokinos places the phenomenon of experience in the context of the Great Sand Dunes, darting mergansers, and self-fulfilling flowers—intensifying all these phenomena in the convergence, vivifying everything he turns his attention to. Like the “deliciously specific” song of one oriole, Bodies, of the Holocene “declares life as lived.”
—Amy Leach, author of Things That Are
Cokinos turns a scientist’s minute eye on the artifacts of human experience. Page by page, he lovingly and ruthlessly gazes—at stars, trees, birds, words, sex, loss, hope—until the object of his gaze yields up its tiny constituent parts. How fitting that such a project should find its voice in the form of these micro-essays, each one dense and particulated as soil, requiring from us a readerly carefulness that involves us in Cokinos’s own work of close study.
—Kimberly Johnson, author of A Metaphorical God
With remarkably deft engagement of both beneath-the-skin intimate micro scales and vast macro scales, with beautiful attention to vernacular and wilderness landscapes, Cokinos has written a poetic argument for embodied experience of physical geography, for the need to understand our human selves as, quite literally, carnally connected to everything we are in touch with. While Bodies, of the Holocene is certainly a text about loss, fear, and hurt, it is also a joyful singing meditation on transformation and the potential of love, ceremony, and the redemptive powers of confession to salvage human self, to (re)connect with the multitudes that are beyond or non human.
—Sarah de Leeuw, author of
Geographies of a Lover