By Julie Poole
Publication Date: May 4, 2021
A poetic botanical index, Julie Poole’s debut collection explores the history and science of human interaction with the natural world.
With the loving eye of an amateur botanist, poet Julie Poole has distilled nature to its finest, tender points. Through poems spread delicately across the page, interspersed with images of the pressed flowers themselves, Poole’s poetry gives voice to a meditative expression of flora. Each poem creates an individual cataloged world through which to explore the body, sexuality, strength, and a devout refusal to admit the separation between humans and nature. Inspired by the Billie L. Turner Plant Resources Center at The University of Texas at Austin, the largest herbaria in the Southwestern United States, Bright Specimen weaves together a written index through the harmony of botanical wonder.
Julie Poole was born and raised in the Pacific Northwest. Her first book of poems, Bright Specimen, was inspired by the Billie L. Turner Plant Resources Center at The University of Texas at Austin. She has received scholarships and fellowship support from the James A. Michener Center, the Helene Wurlitzer Foundation, and Yaddo. In 2017, she was a finalist for the Keene Prize for Literature. Her poems and essays have appeared in Borderlands: Texas Poetry Review, CutBank, Denver Quarterly, and elsewhere. She lives in Austin, Texas, with her growing collection of found butterflies.
“I loved being held by Bright Specimen's gentle intimacy and delight, its organic shapes and speech. Reading this book feels like entering a sunlit room of clear-voiced women, where ‘suddenly it seems possible / no harm will come to anyone.’What could be so fragile and unafraid as an herbarium flower? Only a poet as attuned as Julie Poole could filter the world through such bright souls.”—Taisia Kitaiskaia, author of The Nightgown and Other Poems