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Distributed for CavanKerry Press

Uncertain Acrobats

These poems address the universal experiences of death and loss, putting the complicated feelings of grief into words.

Uncertain Acrobats evokes the feeling of unraveling. The central concern of this narrative is the death of a parent and the fumbling for balance a dying father and his adult daughter share. Rebecca Hart Olander’s intimate collection doesn’t shy away from darkness, but it also strives for light, which resides in music and open-hearted humanity. These poems arc across the terrain of divorce, family, childhood, coming of age, mortality, and deep, abiding love, always landing with a foothold in the genuine. A manifestation of what endures after grief has unraveled our closest bonds, Uncertain Acrobats reaches beyond the author’s personal experience of grief. This collection speaks to all whose lives have been upended by terminal illness or the loss of a beloved person.

96 pages | 7 1/2 x 9 1/2


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Uncertain Acrobats compounds the pleasures of poetry and memoir. These crystalline poems chronicle Rebecca Hart Olander’s relationship with her talented and charismatic father, his death in 2012 at 68, and its aftermath. By virtue of Olander’s brilliant imagery and figurative language, and her mastery of poetic forms, Thomas Seymour Hart is given a tribute that is also a work of art.”

Natasha Sajé

“What else can we do to contain a grief that threatens to overwhelm, but give it, as Shakespeare says, ‘a local habitation and a name’? This is what Rebecca Hart Olander does in these beautiful poems. She takes us through the life and loss of her father, ‘the wide-awake man,’ and shows how, after the stun of death, love turns into longing, and longing into a rich attentiveness to a world suffused with both absence and presence, as when the poet hears a hermit thrush that ‘isn’t there, then is.’ In making her own process of grief so vivid and alive, Olander becomes a guide for others, denying nothing of the pain, but also embracing the world left to her, bequeathed by her father, a world full of stars beyond our reach, but still ‘spangling everything in a wash of light.’ These are moving, luminous poems.”

Betsy Sholl

“In Uncertain Acrobats, Rebecca Hart Olander uses the trampoline of memory to somersault between here and the past, the living and the dead. These poems will catch your breath and make your heart do flips.”

Tomás Q. Morín

"The collection is truly elegiac... These are carefully constructed poems of couplets or tercets, of balanced stanzas and measured lines. Free verse, yes, but meticulously handled, a blueprint, actually, for what it means to craft a poem..."

Sugar House Reviews

Table of Contents


I. learning to release

The Mostly Vacant Photo Album of My Parents’ Short Marriage
Before the Divorce
Adirondack Paradelle
Ode to Throw Pillows
Until Now
“Brown Penny”
She gave me my first journal;
Lilac Sundays
Joint-Custody Commute
Driving Lessons
Tidal Basin
College Cathexis
My Aesop
Peine forte et dure
Josephine Grace

II. no trampoline

Find Alternate Routes
The Cancer Is Back
Veterans Day on Authors Ridge
There’s No Place Like Home
Circling Great Meadows
Turritopsis dohrnii
Grand Central Station
Advent Calendar
Red Cloud

III. riding the wind

Fool’s Gold
Feeding the Dead
The Highway
Easter; after You’ve Gone
Mockingbird Elegy
Calling Song
Mourning Walk
Without You; I’m an Out-of-Work Engineer
My Father’s Burial Clothes
The Whale
My Heaven Would Be Studded with Fathers
The Acolyte at My Door Asks Me; How Do You Pray?
Return to Great Meadows


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