Traverse by Jane Augustine


Collected Poems 1969-2019

Jane Augustine speaks in a consistent, strong and personal voice throughout the 50 years of poetry collected in this volume. Included here are A Woman’s Guide to Mountain Climbing, Arbor Vitae, Transitory, Night Lights, KRAZY, and High Desert.


  • Kind: Perfectbound
  • Pages: 722
  • Language: English
  • Date Published: August, 2021
  • ISBN: 978-1-953252-01-2


On A Woman’s Guide to Mountain Climbing: A book of a woman’s life-journey written with the intensities and intimacies of a haunted mindfulness, this allegorical trek seeks to name the essential amid the multiplying circumstances of selfhood, family intersections, pain, yearning and finite time. A poignant book of all the places and emotions that “leaving we will never leave.” —Rachel Blau DuPlessis 

On Transitory: Jane Augustine’s moving meditation on her young daughter-in-law’s death also engages an ancient inquiry into the purpose of poetry itself. “Alone in a cold house,” as she writes in one of the spare transparent poems in the sequence, “I think of books-how long they last, how late it is.” The lateness of the hour is not only the heart-wrenching early loss of youth and love that stalks this book, but also the late moment of our own times, the wars and miseries we rain down on our kind. This document of enduring, patient witness belongs to the world of “voice” rather than to the genre of poem or prose. It is a luminous companion from-and for-a hard time. —Patricia Hampl

On Night Lights: Elegiac, lyrical and passionately connected to the flow and ebb of the phenomenal world, Night Lights uplifts our poetry gaze. “Now just this: the earth not in the sun’s way/ A perfect ivory mirror reflects the eye/opening/ . . .” Jane Augustine’s investigative eye is to be trusted and applauded. —Anne Waldman

On KRAZY: Visual Poems and Performance Scripts: Take Concrete & Futuristic graphics, cross them with sound poetics & a woman’s wit, and if you’re lucky you’ll get KRAZY. For the ear, for the voice, for the eye, for the mind-Jane Augustine’s feminist performance calls us to full attention and restores a lost chapter of 20th-c. poetics. How long we have been waiting for this book. —Susan Tichy


A Woman’s Guide to Mountain Climbing
nine steps to start with

VI. On the Ridge
12,800 feet in the Sangre de Cristo mountains

At sunset your pumping heart
brings you to the ridge:

the point where you can
at least stand up

the mountain that threatened to fall
on you now under foot

the boot’s fulcrum no razor’s edge
but street-wide

paved with saxifrage whose threads
sunder the granite:

Standing you look west down
to where night already gathers

in an unknown basin deep
among unnamed peaks

at eye‑level still lit
by flaming day more deserted

strange and lovely than the way
you came by:

Deer have carved a trail
to a glacial pool

where you follow make camp
provisional facing moonrise

rest up for the next
riskier more solitary climb


Jane AugustineJane Augustine is a poet, critic, short story writer, visual/sound poetry performance artist and scholar of women in modernity. Born in Berkeley, California, in 1931, she published her first poems in the Berkeley Daily Gazette at age seven, and, in more recent years, six books of poetry, the latest High Desert from Dos Madres Press (2019), all collected in this volume. Editor of The Mystery by H.D. (2009) and The Gift by H.D.: The Complete Text (1998; reissued pb 2021) she is also the author of numerous essays on modern and contemporary poets including H.D., Mina Loy, Lorine Niedecker, William Bronk and Robert Duncan. She has twice been awarded Fellowships in Poetry from the New York State Council on the Arts and has held the H.D. Fellowship at Beinecke Library, Yale University. She has taught at Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, New York University and The New School in New York City, and Naropa University in Boulder, Colorado. She lives with her husband, the poet and critic Michael Heller, in Manhattan and Westcliffe, Colorado.

Additional information

Weight 39.5 oz
Dimensions 9 × 6 × 1.75 in