The poems in Flying Yellow cry out for the day just out of reach, the day which unaccountably may in a moment or a season let down a joyful light into the obscurity of human trial. A hopeful belief in heaven and the end of suffering colors these profoundly spiritual, often uneasy, poems. Carried by musical currents that shape her work, Rhodes ventures into what she calls “the good dark stuff” of experience—good because the dark is where Christ went, willingly, to take it captive. Whether probing the meaning of her own personal traumas or those of historical figures like Mary Rowlandson and Dorothy Bradford; whether peeling back layers of habitual sight to see the natural world of robins and ghost crabs and shorelines more truly, she brings the reader alongside in each surprising encounter to see the possibilities of light.
About the Author
Suzanne Underwood Rhodes lives, writes, and teaches in the mountains of Fayetteville, Arkansas, and is the author of a poetry collection, What a Light Thing, This Stone, and two chapbooks. Her poems were nominated for the Pushcart Prize and have appeared, as well as her essays, in numerous journals and anthologies. Rhodes teaches poetry workshops at the Muse Writers Center in Virginia, and for other groups of students ages five through eighty.
“Reader, beware, for Flying Yellow is not an easy path to follow. That’s because these poems are, thankfully, nothing like the flat, prosaic landscape disguised as poetry today. Rhodes’s is a deeply spiritual terrain, a book of many journeys with a voice who leads us like Dante’s, meeting us in the deep woods ‘with no way to know [what] will lead us out.’ In these dark times, these poems of journey and survival are the ‘flying yellow’ day we need.” —Bruce Guernsey, author of From Rain: Poems 1970-2010
“This is one of the richest poetry collections I have read in a long time. Here are the intense images of a 1960s childhood, vivid narratives of family stresses and joys, and a panoply of voices—from colonial American women to a very pregnant Mary. These poems excite the spirit with revelations of the holy that one encounters in the most unlikely places, which of course is where the holy often appears.” —Jill Peláez Baumgaertner, Poetry Editor, Christian Century
“I have been reading and returning to Suzanne Underwood Rhodes's poems for twenty-five years—as bulwark, as shelter, for their attentiveness to the beauties of language, for their persistent opening into grace—and now comes Flying Yellow, like a gift from a wise friend that arrives when most needed. Rhodes is at the height of her strength here, life-affirming, generous, and precise, a voice with work to do in the world and in the spirit.” —James Owens, poet, author of Mortalia
“From a childhood world ‘torn / from things you’d think / shouldn’t touch a child’ to an adulthood carved into wisdom, ‘after the sun drops / and the crickets have drawn their bows,’ Rhodes gathers up things alongside the absence of things, in a defiant affirmation of blessedness. Throughout Flying Yellow, her unfailing attention to detail and exquisite language compel us to see in ‘sunbursts or gray solemnity’ and ‘always / a heaven in view.’ By the time we arrive at the closing poem, we know we have been offered something akin to ‘the gold / of afterlife,’ a God-infused reality—at times sorrowful, yet forever redeemed. Flying Yellow is salvific poetry at its most reverent, a crucial blessed antidote for our irreverent world.” —Sofia Starnes, Virginia Poet Laureate, Emerita, and author of The Consequence of Moonight
“Once in a very long while, a voice reaches out to haunt you. Here, in an American idiom we can follow and trust, Suzanne Rhodes manages to reveal a Presence that lives within and beyond us. In poem after poem after poem, she shows us a broken world which, resurrected, can flame out in a music which, even as it burns, lifts us into a liminal space beyond anything we might ever have expected.” —Paul Mariani, University Professor Emeritus at Boston College, poet and biographer
“In Flying Yellow, Suzanne Underwood Rhodes offers readers a collection that ranges from the homely holiness of everyday details to a figurative richness that edges quietly toward transcendence. Her diction is plain but precise, her attention to sound unfailing, her syntax consistently rhythmic and controlled. Despite their span of subject and form, these poems are bound together by a tacit pattern as mysterious as it is sure.” —William Jolliff, poet, Twisted Shapes of Light; and author of Heeding the Call: A Study of Denise Giardina’s Novels