What the Willow Said as It Fell

This book-length poem by the current Poet Laureate of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, Andrea Scarpino, asks the reader to sit with and inside the body’s many losses, to grow comfortable and restless in its vagaries, and to acknowledge the myriad ways the body shapes and informs our lives. Incorporating found poetry, including from her own medical records, and the ash and willow tree as mythological figures, Scarpino writes with lyric intensity from a place of resistance and questioning as she tries to describe, understand, and record chronic pain as a growing epidemic.


“This brave and beautiful book is not simply writing about the body—the writer’s own—in chronic pain; it is a deep inhabiting of it, moving through it like a landscape, using all the resources of poetry to stay alert, still thinking, seeking and responding at the point where language generally breaks down. Andrea Scarpino faces not just the drama but the tedium of pain, and offers us no easy comfort; rather, there is both raw insight and surprising grace. The writing dissolves the usual boundaries, between prose and poetry, medical fact and mythical imagination and—like pain itself—between our individual bodies and the whole surrounding world.”—Philip Gross

“‘Pain changes us / and everything we touch,’ writes Andrea Scarpino in her second book of poems, of chronic, undiagnosed pain, a suffering ‘when you always hurt.’ Images of pain braid with evocations of the natural world, deer and willows, pine needles and their scent, pain as always and only pain, red dust hovering, and no hope of transformation without art. A lovely and harrowing book you must read!”—Hilda Raz, co-author of What Becomes You

“With their intoxicatingly beautiful wordscapes and innovative use of language, Andrea Scarpino’s spare, taut, unflinching poems not only find new ways of describing physical pain, they use those most difficult sensations to chart a bodily narrative of love and renewal”—Gerard Woodward

Black lettering flows down a blank white cover with one word on each line reading What the willow said as it fell by Andrea Scarpino.

Andrea Scarpino ( Author Website )

Publication Date: January 25, 2016

Genre/Imprint: Poetry, Red Hen Press

$15.95 Tradepaper

Shop: Red Hen, Bookshop, Barnes & Noble

ISBN: 978-1-59709-731-4