Interviews | Reviews | Shout Outs
Praise for High Ground Coward:
"Alicia Mountain’s debut collection of poetry High Ground Coward, winner of the 2017 Iowa Poetry Prize, concerns itself with what it means to live in our world as a sensitive, observing person, one who desires and is desired, cares and is cared for, engages with the material of one’s surroundings and is also alienated from it. The book opens with the line: “My desires are berries because they are small and many” and truly this book is full of little poems, little promises of exploding flavor and possible satiation."
"These poems explore how we hold the ones we love, both as their real selves and as the selves that our love is projected onto. To know your own self is also to be twinned in that way. What is a love poem, anyway? A doubling and then a flattening of two or more selves into one, a reserve-motion mimesis."
"The insistent ‘I of the poems carries High Ground Coward. There is a very clear point of view and point of focus. How do you read such an intimate speaker, a speaker so grounded in this world, so clearly concerned with people, the places she inhabits, the sufferings and joys of the world, without projecting some of that back on the poet? It’s an inviting voice, a friendly voice, one you can trust."
An interview with Justin Wymer about High Ground Coward, the surveillance state, Space Jam, and queer representation in the poetry world.
"Rumpus: Can poetry be an instrument in the fight to dismantle systemic problems?
Mountain: Of course it can. I am tempted to say that poetry is the instrument to dismantle systemic problems, but I don’t believe poetry can do it alone. However, at it’s best, poetry strikes loud the deep gong within us that signals revolution. When Rilke writes, “You must change your life,” this is not in the abstract. This is urgent and unavoidable."
A conversation with Shereen Lee about origin, inspiration, and intimacy in High Ground Coward.
"I’m interested in what it looks like to stand tall in difficult feelings: embarrassment, love, anger, desire, cowardice, even joy, which can be difficult too."
"I appreciate the way that uncertainty can be its own form of access— it almost wouldn’t be poetry if we had singular explanations for every element of the work.
Praise for High Ground Coward:
"High Ground Coward shines because Mountain seems just as adept at looking outward as she is at looking inward — and not at all frightened to do either."
"From the first pages, she pairs the mundane with the pristine, creating poems that are highly relatable but also filled with insight and epiphany, infusing everyday moments with a poet’s powers of reflection."
"Mountain’s talent for pairing the everyday with the extraordinary isn’t the only remarkable thing about the collection. It’s also a fantastic and unabashed queer text. Just as Mountain is proud and vulnerable and honest about her thoughts on fast food, she’s also candid and frank (even brash) about issues of sexuality."
"The result is a collection of poems that are frank and often funny and that fluctuate dizzyingly between reality and reflection, concrete ideas and whimsy. With a strong ear for beautiful language, Mountain at times indulges the reader with lovely, traditional, and/or abstract lines of description. But within a beat, she returns you to earth, with lines that can make you laugh out loud..."
Praise for High Ground Coward:
"In search of stable ground, Mountain crosses terrain as foreboding as her name in her Iowa Poetry Prize–winning debut. 'I became reliant/ on potting soil. I kept forty pounds/ in my trunk as a more hopeful sandbag,' proclaims Mountain’s speaker, a queer lover, fighter, and seeker."
"The collection’s strongest poems are those that convey concrete details about places, often magnificent and precarious landscapes: cliffs, steep hillsides, alpine passes piled with snow that are impossible to pass without tire chains. Attention to domesticity marks the work’s flip side: 'NPR in the kitchen and a woman who is impressed/ every time I make the salad dressing.'"
"Exhibiting a strong voice and a knack for intimate detail, Mountain delivers a collection that 'Paints you in colors./ Leaves you half dead.'"
INTERVIEW & POEM
The Southampton Review
A conversation with Lindsay Adkins and the poem "This Particular Solvent" from High Ground Coward.
Here's a peek:
"I've been lucky to live in the dense vertical cities, beneath vast gasping sky, and in in-between places. In all of these geographies I see poems in life being lived: forest fires, laundromats, porn, rivers, zumba, trains, falling in love, chopping wood, taxes, training a horse. These are all of a world in High Ground Coward. I want to exalt the quotidian, even if it doesn’t match canonical images of poetic beauty. The beauty is in there—in the drive thru, in the day job. The canon will change."
FOGLIFTER Journal | Volume 3, Issue 1
An interview with the wonderful Lauren R. Korn! We talk Montana, poet-voice, magic, queerness, twins, cover art, road rips, and what I'm reading. Buy the hard copy here.
"I think much of this work queers certainty, what we’re sure of and what we can’t know. In these poems 'literal' and 'metaphorical' are two sides of the same coin. These poems try to show that the metaphorical is actual, and that the real thing is enchanted and transcendent."
POEM & Commentary
Poetry Society of America
The poem "Drive Thru" from the book, High Ground Coward, along with brief commentary.
"I am trying to talk about the opposite of shame. I am trying to talk about the people who pull us out of our shame. I want to thank them. "Drive Thru" is a small way of showing my gratitude."
Up the Staircase Quarterly | Issue 41
In conversation with UtSQ! I'm grateful they gave me the space to talk about elementary school teacher Mrs. Charles, the sensation of being read to, Pat Parker, and feeling like a young queer alien.
"Queerness isn’t just about partnership or sex. It can be about aliens, about feeling like an alien, and how everything that’s scary about that is also beautiful, also lets us glow."