Far from the madding crowd, but keenly aware of the dangerous & uncertain world we live in, Kristina Stykos’ poems from rural Vermont uncover “a joy shining through cracked prisms of love, loss and letting go”, exploring from the ground up, what it is to be human. Working as a landscape gardener, while trying to eke out a living as a musician, Stykos’ persistent voice is as singular as it is unsentimental, musing on a hardscrabble existence made transcendent by the nearly indescribable beauty of her wild and remote surroundings.
Using language that is conversational and easy to grasp, her poems are at once elegant and dynamic, taking us directly into the heart her daily routines. Whether it’s pruning a gangly rose bush, eating lunch on a truck tailgate, or taking a chance on a muddy & forgotten dirt road, she makes it clear that there is always more to understand and contemplate about this gnarly paradox we call life.
“Through Kristina Stykos’ unflinching lens, we harbor fleeting essences of what it means to live indivisibly from the land—its woods, fields, farms, gardens, streams, mountains, back roads, and everything that grows and fades only to grow again—among neighbors, strangers, friends…all who are inescapably at home in it … Savor the art of a true Vermont original whose deeply inhabited renderings encourage us to linger here, as long and often as we like.“
About the Author
Kristina Stykos wrote her first poem “Walking Home on a Snowy Evening” as a fourth grader and performed her first original song “On a Moonlit Summer Night” in the pavilion at Girl Scout camp.
Working under the pseudonym Gardenessa for almost a couple decades, she’s become known for her artful landscape design and top-notch flower gardening. But she’s probably better known as a musician who runs her own recording studio, writing songs and singing late into the night … or disappearing into the woods on a ramble. This is her first book of poetry.
“With her debut collection of poetry, Kristina Stykos emerges as a vibrant fully mature voice, writing lovely short poems that resonate on many levels, as the best of poems do. With soul and soil, ribbed with humor and delivering metaphor with a deft touch, Ridgerunner offers thoughtful moments etched as water over stone, to be enjoyed and returned to for the measure of what it is to be human upon this earth.”
“These poems are short, but that doesn’t mean they are small or easy to read. They are distilled moments of a life lived in rural Vermont. When you read them carefully, the meaning ripples out, like rings in a pond when you throw a stone into the water. There are poems about the woods and fields, about work and her fellow Vermonters, about solitude and the changing weather. All the poems are connected to the land and the seasons, except for the last one, which sums it up: “Sing” I fell into a world/ where nothing/ made sense/ but what I had lost/ & so, I began to sing.”
“Monk, gardener, songstress, neighbor and always poet. That’s who I find and hear, in Kristina Stykos’ diamond-spirited poems. Not koans or haiku exactly, yet moments in her perceptive and perceiving eternity. Life embodied in hands-in-the dirt, fingers-on-love’s frets. Not a wasted word. And like a garden ready-to-be turned, everything used for its own, necessary and desired purpose. I want to say Gary Snyder and Mary Oliver-ish. But I won’t. These poems are Kristina Stykos’ own. And I am glad they are now in our world. Here’s one: “Mourning Dove” I found her/ in the overgrown/ grass/ knelt down/ by the body/ as if it were my own/ touched/ each feather/ so full of flight/ so full/ of disappearance.”