“The often praiseful, sometimes wrenching poems in Toni Hanner’s The Ravelling Braid are stories of the well-worn earth, lost ancestors, of lovers and seekers, of “bones and blood black with rain.” She speaks of the father with both great reverence and an unwavering eye. This bighearted poet calls us to a world where we are braided with loss and redemption.
“The poems in Toni Hanner’s The Ravelling Braid don’t flinch, despite the hard content of the American century. The narrator remembers the forced assimilation of her father, aches with the pleasure of dance—“bones and blood black with rain”—and conjures up a world of tomatoes, cottonwoods, red clay, Lutheran potluck dishes, diner waitresses and old Fords. This is a necessary book for our times: a howl at “our sharp American edges”, in all their deadliness and beauty.
—Jordan Hartt, Director of Programs, Centrum
“As is common in first books, with The Ravelling Braid Toni Hanner erects a creation myth to introduce her voice to the contemporary poetry landscape. What is wonderfully uncommon here is the singularity, maturity and assuredness of that voice. As Hanner tells us in the title poem, “I could not have designed this world,/ the Shanghai, the Costco of it, the diligence/ required to stay out of reach of the sharks’ teeth,” but Hanner has absolutely captured its oppositional strangeness and peculiar beauties. These are musical, expertly wrought lyric narratives that remind us that storytelling and craft are alive and, more importantly, relevant, to readers in the 21st century.
“A very fine collection — brimming and sparkling. When readers reach the bottoms of these poems, the air will be different.
—Lawson Fusao Inada, Emeritus Professor of Writing, Southern Oregon University
Toni Hanner’s poems appear in Yellow Medicine Review, MARGIE, Calyx, Gargoyle, and many others. Her books include Moonmusic (2000, Wellstone Press, with co-author Connie Beitler) and Gertrude (2012, Traprock Books). She is a member of Eugene’s Red Sofa Poets and Port Townsend’s Madrona Writers. She is married to the poet Michael Hanner and lives in Eugene, Oregon.