Root of Light
poems by Michelle Doege
At the raw base of our limbs, just as green sprouts and thin tentacles tap into new soil, Michelle Doege's poems get deep into our “marrow.” The poems in Root of Light time travel among the living and the dead, between the ancestral and family homes of Germany, the US, her wife’s native India, and their new home of Canada. These vivid and visceral poems embody how forced migrations and border crossings, whether driven by famine or persecution or love, can leave the migrant feeling severed from the family tree. And yet, these illusive and permeable borders are never as solid as they seem. Doege’s poems sprout trees from the clearcut in unexpected crevices infused with the green and radiant light of Hildegard von Bingen or the sturdiness of the poet's father, her “one solid oak,” who taught her to build beauty from the heart of the wood.
POETRY / General
Copyright 2022; released October 2022
Michelle Doege is a writer of poems and stories, an educator, and a nurturer of any creative community she calls home. She holds an MFA in creative writing in poetry and mixed genre from Augsburg College, Minneapolis, Minnesota. Her poems—both print and video—have appeared in Why We Write: Poets of Vernon, Smoke & Ash, Possessions: The Eldon House Poems, Avocet: A Journal of Nature Poems, Farm Folk City Folk; her story “End of a Rainbow” appears in Wherever I Find Myself: Stories of Canadian Immigrant Women (Caitlin Press, 2017). Her recent writing has been shortlisted for the Malahat Review’s Constance Rooke Creative Nonfiction Award (2021) and earned semi-finalist in the Tulip Tree Publishing Contest (2019). Doege also finds great joy in layering poems with visual art, in broadsides or video collaborations. She currently writes and offers writing workshops in the Okanagan, British Columbia, her home, the green and freshest tendrils of her roots.
To learn more about Doege’s writing, creative activities, and workshops, please visit: www.michelledoegepoet.com.
“Michelle Doege’s collection shelters us like a beloved tree. Her poems are intimate, kind, precise, and make beautiful shapes on the page, inviting her readers to consider how the shape of a tree can shape their own thinking about relationship, partnership, and the people who make up our homes and the places that give us our roots.”
“A book of changes that follows transits and migrations, border-crossings and continental separations, Michelle Doege’s Root of Light constructs with great tenderness a nexus of familiarity and connection. A book-length love poem to Doege’s wife Vindu, Root of Light charts the journey of a twenty-five-year relationship. Out of familial disruption and cultural difference—the ‘blue gods’ of Vindu’s ancestry and the European ‘green’ paganism of Doege’s Germanic ancestry—Doege’s poems nurture ‘a tangled web / of a world’ that is both home and the desire for home, an ongoing work of love. The spirited cadences of Doege’s poetry invoke the ‘green and radiant light’ of St. Hildegard’s visionary ecology: a living source of faith and imagination during these catastrophic times when there is ‘no light at the end of this tunnel / at least that we can see.’ Michelle Doege’s Root of Light sees it with us and for us.
“In Michelle Doege’s first collection, these powerful poems—‘suitcases cracked open like lives’—explore notions of place and displacement, orientation and reorientation. Spanning cultures and continents, Root of Light travels along a ‘family branch of curries and pot pies’ to find comfort in both the familiar and the unknown. With verse both delicate and potent, these poems dig deeper as they reach toward the light, always returning to ‘the moveable borders of home.’” —Laisha Rosnau, author of Our Familiar Hunger; winner of the Dorothy Livesay Award
“I love this book by Michelle Doege! I love its fearless heart and its unapologetic heat! The poems cross borders in the search for our real home that is always within our own longing and rootlessness. ‘We become delirious / mesmerized / hardly aware / if we are still / on the road.’ Trees surround us in these poems, and all the trees are also lovers: catalpa, oak, the sap that ‘drips between her legs.’ Home is truly everywhere and ‘Our entire life exists / in one tree.’ Read this book. Save your life. Save the earth.”
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