In this fiercely feminist ecopoetic collection, Kathryn Nuernberger reclaims love and resilience in an age of cruelty. As the speaker—an artist and intellectual—finds herself living through a rocky marriage in conservative rural Missouri, she maintains her sense of identity by studying the science and folklore of plants historically used for birth control. Her ethnobotanical portraits of common herbs like Queen Anne’s lace and pennyroyal are interwoven with lyric biographies of pioneering women ecologists whose stories have been left untold in textbooks. With equal parts righteous fury and tender wisdom, Rue reasseses the past and recontextualizes the present to tell a story about breaking down, breaking through, and breaking into an honest, authentic expression of self.
“This collection lets you open yourself to the possibility of truth stripped bare of the cultural baggage that keeps us from speaking our minds to strangers and friends and lovers alike. Let Rue bewitch you, let it charm you, as rue strung around the neck to keep your vision sharp and deflect from plague and remedy what ails you. Let it locate what ails you, and extract it with whatever needs to be said.” —Jennifer Givhan, author of Rosa’s Einstein
Kathryn Nuernberger is author of the James Laughlin Award-winning The End of Pink (BOA, 2016), as well as the poetry collection Rag & Bone (Elixir, 2011) and the lyric essay collection Brief Interviews with the Romantic Past (Ohio State University Press, 2017). Fascinated by the history of science and the natural world, her writing has appeared in 32 Poems, Crazyhorse, Field, Gulf Coast, Poetry Daily, and elsewhere. After many years directing Pleiades Press, she now teaches at the University of Minnesota MFA Program and lives in Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN.