Coming To Treeline: Adirondack Poems
by Pamela Cranston


“Pamela Cranston's Coming to Treeline: Adirondack Poems takes on more expressly regional subjects, from “Bracket Fungus” to a “Storm Over Gothics Mountain.” Her lines are rich and florid, reflecting the intricacies of natural beauty while illuminating them with awe and love.”

Sara Bernard
Adirondack Life, October, 2005

Coming To Treeline was delivered today. I sat down intending to read a few pages at a time but, as I read, I was captivated by the sheer beauty of Pamela Cranston's poetry. She has written poetry that will remain forever in the reader's mind. Each of her poems held a rare beauty for me as in Moonrise Over Noonmark: "the moon lifts/ her brush of silver icing and silently/paints the peak of Noonmark oyster blue." What an exquisite handling of words! Having observed the Buddhist monks in the Far East, I loved the lines from Summer Visitors, Winter Villagers: "Meanwhile, the silent mountains - Porter, Baxter and Snow/ bow low, like Buddhist monks/ on pilgrimage to nowhere." I shall keep Coming To Treeline on my desk and read it over and over again. Poetry like this is poetry forever.”

Elfie E. Larkin
Oakland, CA

“Reading these poems is like taking a long walk through snowy woods. Their language is fresh and clean, cool-headed yet brimming with a profound passion for place. They seem to come from inside the natural world (with which the writer clearly has a longstanding intimacy) rather than being composed upon it, as is true of so many ‘nature poems.' The book is a hymn to a place sung in a language that flows, clear and loud, out of close observation, reverence and love.”

Chase Twichell
Poet and author of The Practice of Poetry: Writing Exercises from Poets Who Teach, The Ghost of Eden: Poems

“Pamela Cranston's poetry touches something in all of us: the spiritual closeness one feels with nature, as expressed in many of her well-known Adirondack poems, as well as the desire for self-exploration that seems to come more easily when immersed in the forest. She invites the reader to join her on her personal journey of remembrance, devotion, gratitude, and hope. But her poetry speaks to more than merely those who have had the fortune to spend time in the wilderness of the High Peaks region: written with craft and a mature sensitivity to language, Pamela Cranston's poetry sings with peace, hope, and a wisdom that comes from her many experiences with the beauty of the natural world."

Colleen Marie Ryor
Editor of The Adirondack Review

"Coming To Treeline is enchanting. Such feeling! It's an honor to have a painting from our collection grace the cover."

Mimi Kilgore
Curator, Fayez Sarofim Collection

"Pamela Cranston belongs to a tradition of priest-poets reaching back to people like George Herbert and Thomas Traherne. Hers is not the Puritan religion that wants to make all spirituality conform to her predetermined models. It's the Anglican model that acknowledges God at work in every life—often in ways that seem not at all religious. I could include John Donne, too, in my list of antecedents. But his is a more tormented relationship with the Spirit. In Coming To Treeline: Adirondack Poems, Pamela Cranston, like Herbert or Traherne, opens up new doors and invites us to grasp revelation everywhere, particularly in our interactions with nature—in a duet with an owl, in a white-water stream, in dew on grass, in a spider's web. She brings us with her into her own experience, then sets us free to have our own."

The Rev. Dr. L. William Countryman
Author of The Poetic Imagination: An Anglican Spiritual Tradition (Orbis) and Run, Shepherds, Run (Morehouse)

Pamela Cranston photoIt is with great pleasure that I wholeheartedly recommend that each and every one of you do yourselves a great favor and get a copy of Pamela Cranston's new collection of poetry. Ms. Cranston, born in New York City, raised in Old Deerfield, MA and a summer resident of the Adirondacks for most of her life, does what the best poets do best: find the little things in life, the mundane, if you will, and with an economy of verse and a paucity of rhyme, connect with the reader on a level of emotional depth and truth that brings us deeply into the poet's world. Poetry to Ms. Cranston is a form of journalism. She is foremost a reporter, finding the anchor point of a moment in time – often an obscurity most would overlook – to define her subject and to make her point succinctly, as in Vryling Corscaden Roussin (1944-2004):

Vry's first masterpiece
was the bathroom sink.
She painted it hot pink
with her mother's nail polish
at the age of five. From then on,
Art was the life for her…

These lines are a perfect summation for someone who spent all her days devoted to art. Indeed, she “lived a life without lines.” Ms. Cranston at her best, and her best is transmitted through every iamb, expresses joy, wonder, love, pain, salvation, hope and the rewards of the struggle to get to treeline and beyond. Whether finding rainbow trout in a brook on a descent from Mt. Marcy, New York's highest peak, or describing a tragedy as in Flood on Giant Mountain, June 29, 1963, Ms. Cranston never fails to reach us.

…We never know when the Brown River of big moments will come crashing upon us. Life wields the harrower's blade when we least expect it—forcing us to grow or die standing still.

How true these words ring in this day of tsunamis, floods and hurricanes. Yet,

Next day, the clear sky knelt down all sorry and blue, full of remorse, even as the forest's wreckage gushed all around us…

There is another heartbreaker here, this time about bears.

They say that the voice of a bear
is like the sound
of a woman
in distress
Did she rage
as they gunned
her down in the gorse…?

This is only a smattering. Go to sthubertspress.com and get your copy. If you're not satisfied with this book, I will personally refund your expenditure.

Victor Forbes
Editor of Fine Art Magazine
VOL XXX, No. 1, FALL 2005

"Coming to Treeline: Adirondack Poems begins with exertion. Pamela Cranston plunges us into the Adirondack geography of experience, memory and spiritual connection by first hiking us to the peaks that define it both regionally and spiritually. Three poems in, we have bush- whacked Haystack, climbed Marcy and clambered down Dix. We find ourselves poem-hikers watching moonrise over Noonmark. We are brought to treeline, that marvelous shaping metaphor for Cranston's experience of the Adirondacks.

The four dozen poems in this collection create a poetic environment that is named and textured and detailed. They bring specificity to their evocation and celebration of place by naming its inhabitants (magnolia warbler, white cedar, "Old Mountain" Phelps) and conjuring its sounds (the "prattle" of Roaring Brook, the scream of fighter planes over the Military Operations Area that includes Adirondack airspace, the plop of a sinkered fishing line). One of the gems of her gift for muscular detail is "Riding the Ausable Club Bus," a poem that "rattles and shimmies" us down the Lake Road in a '48 Woodie. Cranston's Adirondacks is a world made particular.

This poetry also finds in these ancient mountains an ancient solace: holy ground, renewal, redemption. The notion of finding one's spiritual bearings in this place is introduced in the title poem: Past fifty, I come to a treeline of my own/ and sigh with relief./ Just maybe, I can find/ my bearings/now. "Tin Cup" explores the sacramental element of a shared, dented hiking cup; "Paper Birches" unscrolls a holy parchment. "The Blue Boat," the concluding poem, is poem and prayer both. Even when the imagery and vocabulary of Cranston's poems are not specifically spiritual, the sense of spiritual journey and spiritual attunement informs the work.

Perhaps the poem in Coming to Treeline that I return to most is "Two Portraits of William James," a poem first published in Blueline. It is a complex rendering of the seeker/psychologist who shaped so much of the study of the mind. This is not simply about a renowned person and his brief intersection with the Adirondacks. It is rooted in fact, but powerfully imagined, evoking an experience that moves beyond the easier simplicities of regional writing that rely on historical account and an uncomplicated sense of the locale.

Each of Pamela Cranston's Adirondack poems stands on its own; each is necessary to the collection as a whole. Together, they integrate themselves into a body of work that reveals an attentiveness to detail, an infusion of spirit and a complexity of view.

Reviewed by Stephanie Coyne-DeGhett, Poetry Editor, Blueline
© Blueline Journal, Vol. XXVI, Spring 2006, pg. 151-152.

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