Cairn: New & Selected

Chosen with care, this volume represents forty years of poems and prose by Peggy Shumaker. Her distinctive cadences give voice to the landscapes and people of Alaska and Arizona. This work leads us deep into what remains unresolved, savoring mysteries of heart, mind, and soul. Matters of life and death, these poems embody exuberance and struggle and generosity.


“Brilliant book! Note how often Peggy Shumaker, profoundly wise and tender poet, writes ‘in honor’ of something or someone else – has there ever been a more generous soul?  These poems of many decades invoke so many rich worlds of being…her elegant spirit and voice turn us all back into the more lyrical people we might be. It is her ongoing gift, and our treasure.”
Naomi Shihab Nye

“Early on in Cairn, Peggy Shumaker asks: Who are we without language? And I respond: Who are we without this poet’s language, a tongue that often seems to be oracle, speaking to us from a parallel world? In this treasure trove of poetry and short prose that spans decades of her writing life, Shumaker re-shapes our perception of how we move through our lives and the lives of others. As an added bonus, we’re allowed behind the scenes of her collaboration with the painter Kesler Woodard, complete with the gorgeous paintings that emerged from this conversation between two consummate artists. In all her work, Shumaker grounds us in the present moment, while also allowing us to look up and see: ‘The view/vast/beyond us.'”—Brenda Miller

“If you read only a single volume of poetry this year, may it be Peggy Shumaker’s transcendent and luminous Cairn: New & Selected Poems.  Traversing more than thirty years of the poet’s life in letters, Cairn offers readers a panoply of lyric inner and outer journeys—from Arizona’s deserts to Hawaii and Costa Rica’s tropics to Alaska’s frozen expanses and beyond. Simultaneously, Shumaker charts hauntingly resonant losses, both communal and personal, wisdom rooted in her love of nature, and myriad joys arising from the bonds of friendship and love.

With a clarity and sparseness rivaling Dickinson’s, the resilience and poetic mastery of Kumin, and the lucidity, honesty, and dignity of Szymborska, Shumaker proves herself to be one of this generation’s most distinctive poetic voices. Treasure this urgently beautiful and necessary book, for it expresses the complexity of our lives with virtuosic skill, intimacy, and enlightenment.”—Maurya Simon

A black background and a heart shaped trinket in the middle with script that reads Cairn New and Selected by Peggy Shumaker.

Peggy Shumaker ( Author Website )

Publication Date: May 8, 2018

Genre/Imprint: Poetry, Red Hen Press

$28.95 Tradepaper

Shop: Red Hen, Bookshop, Barnes & Noble

ISBN: 978-1-59709-611-9

Download the Press Kit Here


Midwest Book Review Recommends Cairn

Midwest Book Review provided a short review of Peggy Shumaker’s latest work Cairn: New and Selected. A collection of poems which encompass Peggy’s experiences in Alaska and Arizona, Midwest Book Review writes that […]

Peggy Shumaker’s CAIRN reviewed in INTO THE VOID

Peggy Shumaker was the Alaska State Writer Laureate for 2010-2012 and the founding editor of Boreal Books, publishers of fine art and literature from Alaska. Cairn, her recently published collection, […]