Tamie Marie Fields’ essay “Hook and Sway” appears in Issue 32 of Terrain.org. Here, Fields writes about a few of the books which have influenced her writing.
Bury My Clothes by Roger Bonair-Agard
Roger Bonair-Agard’s spoken-word poetry has been an important influence on me as a writer for several years, so I was delighted when his new book of poetry, Bury My Clothes, was released this year. The poems pulse with Scripture and drum beats and sex and justice and throb with the davening that is Bonair-Agard’s baseline. Bonair-Agard is one of the most balls-to-the-wall, wide-open-heart, tap-not-just-one-vein-but-ten-veins-at-once writers I have ever known or heard of. His poetry is fully engaged, absolutely riveting, and demands everything from his readers (or listeners, if you have the luck of catching him live).
Entering the Stone: On Caves and Feeling Through the Dark by Barbara Hurd
Entrances to so many of the caves Barbara Hurd explores in Entering the Stone: On Caves and Feeling Through the Dark are unassuming cracks in the ground, opening into vast and gorgeous and irreducibly mysterious inner landscapes. That’s what this book of essays is like, too. It’s a book of essays about caving, and given that Hurd is such an exquisite essayist it is, of course, a book about so much more: loss and impasse and unexpected hope and death. And yet, the book really is about literal caving, about all the caves Hurd has walked and crawled and wriggled into, the creatures and slime and stone she has found there. The essays are varied and condensed and expansive—and, above all, they’re interesting. It’s one of the wisest books I know.
A Book of Silence by Sara Maitland
A Book of Silence is Sara Maitland’s account of her in-depth encounters with silence. The book is equal parts philosophy, memoir, historical account, nature writing, and cultural critique. She has extensively researched silence—from the journals of solo Arctic explorers to the sayings of the fourth century Egyptian desert monastics; she has also lived in remote places in complete silence and solitude for prolonged periods. A Book of Silence is the opposite of a trendy or packaged-to-sell book. And yet, it is imminently readable, entirely compelling. Maitland explores one of the phenomena contemporary westerners most rarely encounter—silence—and she does it in a way that is both uncompromising and alluring.
Walk the Blue Fields by Claire Keegan
Claire Keegan’s collection of short stories, Walk the Blue Fields, locates redemption in seemingly unredeemable characters, but not at the cost of truth. She renders the cruelty or the grief or the sexuality of her characters so expertly. She doesn’t point it out. She doesn’t tell it. She shows it, slowly, painstakingly. But it doesn’t feel painstaking. Walk the Blue Fields is a great joy to read. One doesn’t know whether to read it in great gulps or to savor it in very slowly. You want to do both at once. And what really sets Keegan’s work apart is the unexpected turn in each story, the way hope or forgiveness get into moments and lives that seemed they could not possibly hold them.
Tamie Marie Fields grew up between three distinct geographies: Bear Island, Alaska; Warsaw, Indiana; and Jerusalem, Israel. She now loves living in the San Francisco Bay Area. She has an MFA from the University of Southern Maine.