I recently had the good fortune to sit down with poets and dog lovers Bernie Quetchenbach and Cara Chamberlain for Yellowstone Public Radio. As a married couple, their literary lives intertwine in many ways and both released new books this spring.
“What we play is the music of circumstance, a ragged, delicate hymn, the soulsong of our shared and lonely lives,” writes Bernie in “Accidental Gravity,” a collection of essays that is part poetic, part introspective, but in fullness a most lovely almost lyrical composition.
I was particularly struck by the way Bernie sandwiches climate change with music of his youth. Here’s a passage from the chapter Summertime:
“Summertime. Long hot (but not so very hot) days by the lakeshore, the water not clean, but better than it was, sure, and always cool. Black terns skim the shore. Ospreys will return, with DDT banned. So much time. Out of school, lying back with the transition radio, BBF tossing out “Day Tripper” and “The Kids are Alright” along with harmless fluff like “Incense and Peppermints,” as lampreys sail in on the Saint Lawrence Seaway, waterfront houses pop up faster than cat tails along Long Pond, the war in Vietnam inches across the years toward my 18th birthday. But for now, Janis, the living is easy.”
Cara’s collection of poetry, titled “Lament of the Antichrist in a Secular World,” is wildly inventive with quite the cast of characters – therapists, virgins, prophets, apostles, kings, queens, maidens, feminine archetypes, Satan and the son of god – Adam and Eve, Delilah and Samson, Mary Magdalene, Ezekiel Among the Mall Walkers…to name a few.
As well, there’s such a strong sense of place, from the glaciered peaks to the grace of deer, the plowed fields and vanishing farms, subdivisions and retail stores.
In our interview on Yellowstone Public Radio, Cara and Bernie discuss their literary household (just like anyone else’s, with probably a few more words rolling about).