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Egg Island Almanac

Egg Island Almanac

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Brendan Galvin


Paperback (Other formats: E-book)
80 pages, 6 x 9

Crab Orchard Series in Poetry


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About the Book

An endangered right whale attempting to nurse her new calf in the December ocean, foxgloves blooming in different places from year to year, or the rescue of imperiled Kemp’s ridley sea turtles—the bounty and cruelty of nature infuses this latest collection of poems from Brendan Galvin, which takes as its maxim finding the extraordinary in the ordinary all around us.

The poems chronicle the waxing and waning of the seasons from one winter to the next in the area around Egg Island, the dunes near a small seacoast town on the outermost reaches of Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Galvin’s training as a naturalist and environmental writer is evident as his practiced eye roves the waves, marshes, and forests, finding meaning and beauty in the smallest detail— bird-watching, rebuilding a woodpile, or the flight of bobwhite quail. Other poems recall the poet’s affectionate memories of his deceased wife and the life they shared together, acknowledging grief without veering into the maudlin. Always present beneath the surface is the question of where humans fit into this wild, ever-changing landscape.

In meditations that recall the poetry and prose of Mary Oliver or W. S. Merwin, Galvin sets off on a vivid journey sure to increase readers’ appreciation for the natural world. Perhaps his most compelling message is that readers need not jet off to Everest or Kilimanjaro to experience mystery and beauty on Earth—there’s wonder aplenty in our own backyards.


Brendan Galvin is the author of seventeen poetry collections, including Habitat: New and Selected Poems, 1965–2005, a finalist for the National Book Award. His awards include a Guggenheim Fellowship, two NEA fellowships, the Iowa Poetry Prize, and the first O. B. Hardison, Jr. Poetry Prize from the Folger Shakespeare Library. He has been a Wyndham Robertson Visiting Writer in Residence at Hollins University, a Coal Royalty Distinguished Writer in Residence at the University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, and a Whichard Chairholder in the Humanities at East Carolina University.


“Brendan Galvin is one of our best poets of place, perhaps the best. Egg Island Almanac takes us again to his home turf, to the woods and marshes at the outer reaches of Cape Cod, and in line after line he renders the physical world of changing seasons with a fine eye: a fox ‘light-footing it over the dunes of snow,’ chickadees braving a blizzard ‘in their workaday coveralls,’ or a peacock ‘spreading his fan like a stained-glass window.’ Written in the poet’s eighth decade, these poems are aware of the cruelty of time and the past that keeps happening, especially in the wake of his wife’s death, but small treasures of observation hold each day together and make endurance worth the effort.”—Peter Makuck, author of Long Lens: New and Selected Poems, Pulitzer Prize nominee
“‘Lavishly bushwhacked’ by Cape Cod and the creatures who share it with him, Brendan Galvin remains our most provocative witness to the thresholds where the wild and the settled intersect. Versed in Frost’s ‘old ways of being new,’ he employs his keen eye, salty wit, vast knowledge of living things, and gift for metaphor to reveal in Egg Island Almanac a landscape and a heartscape that readers will never forget.”—R. T. Smith, author of In the Night Orchard: New and Selected Poems
“At once elegiac and satiric, the poems in Brendan Galvin’s Egg Island Almanac reveal a writer at home in the largest sense. Galvin has always been a careful observer of the natural world, and his attention and intelligence resonate in this bird-haunted collection. The ridicule of American pretensions and acquisitiveness is always gentle but pointed, and the land itself always, inevitably, wins. An autumn melancholy dominates the tone, even of the spring poems, but it’s a sadness shot through with the quiet wisdom of a man dedicated to recording and interpreting even the smallest of beings. As he says in ‘Getting a Grip,’ something as tiny as a single chickadee has something of value to show us: ‘taking its time, . . . / for just the right seed, passing / its grip down to me, / a strength, a way of holding on.’”—Sarah Kennedy, author of The Gold Thread

“Egg Island Almanac” by Brendan Galvin, Southern Illinois University Press, 2017, $15.95, ISBN 978-0-8093-3607-4

"Brendan Galvin is the author of 17 poetry collections, has been a finalist for the National Book Award, and has won the Guggenheim Fellowship and many more prestigious awards. His 18th poetry collection, titled, “Egg Island Almanac,” is filled with stories of Cape Cod’s beaches and wildlife. His poems transport you to the environment he is focusing on, and his words reveal a vast knowledge of the outside world. “Egg Island Almanac” is the perfect collection of poems to read on a cold autumn afternoon to unwind from your day."--Cape Cod Times