The Mudra

By Kerri Sonnenberg


Litmus Press
Original Language(s)
Additional Credits
Cover art & design by Keith Waldrop
Book design by E. Tracy Grinnell
Edition, Year
First Edition, 2004
In Print

In Buddhism, a mudra is a symbolic gesture expressive of an inner state. To conceive of a single such gesture—the mudra—brings dramatic tension to the symbolizing act. Such a title is perfect for Kerri Sonnenberg’s intelligent and graceful examination of world and language, from the lyrical fragments of the title section—“I’ll spend some distance” and “the shapes we fail”—to the beautifully seen landscape of the collection’s final lines: “turned fields without/color was night before roads.” Both the fragment, with its suggestion of absence, and the oblique narrative, with its ghostly suggestion of a “whole,” are means of expressing, as if for the first time, worlds we thought we knew. Meister Eckhart’s phrase is “I shall again say what I have never said before.” In the richest poetry, complex occasions are evoked in few words: “a thread they trust receiving” or “instance forms a seal.” To read a poem is to watch the crossing of worlds. In The Mudra, Kerri Sonnenberg gives us worlds brilliant in their passing.

— Paul Hoover

Kerri Sonnenberg
Kerri Sonnenberg is author of The Mudra (Litmus Press, 2004). Her writing has been anthologized in The &NOW Awards: The Best Innovative Writing and The City Visible: Chicago ... Read More

Kerri Sonnenberg’s first book, The Mudra, uses the symbolic gesture of the hand to invite the reader into a world hinged not only on the self, but also on worlds and words that can collide at any moment. The book focuses on love, war, time, and history. Such topics can be risky, but Sonnenberg explores these themes with simplicity and grace.

— Lyndsey Cohen, VERSE Magazine


“[night and]” by Kerry Sonnenberg at The Poetry Foundation


Praise for The Mudra

The symbolic hand gestures in images of the Buddha point toward their origin in ritual dance. Sonnenberg’s poems point us to a dance of the intellect among words, words close to music and “be side reasoning.” Mesmeric.

— Rosmarie Waldrop

Kerri Sonnenberg’s genius allows her to hold charged language in a mobile, kinetic, charged tension: as alive as the world it keeps faith with. In The Mudra, boundaries blur, meanings shift, positions—and oppositions—present themselves (and vanish), other possibilities appear, “couldn’t I just as well…,” opening further negotiations between word and world, worded world and self. Emotionally, intellectually “there is ante through adjusts” as the reader activates this extraordinary, finely balanced and absolutely thrilling book.

— Laura Mullen

We Also Recommend

Bharat jiva
By kari edwards
Aufgabe No. 2
Edited by E. Tracy Grinnell, Rosmarie Waldrop
O Bon
By Brandon Shimoda

Dedicated support from individual readers like you funds our day-to-day operations and enables the programming we undertake in direct service to the visionary writers and artists whose works we champion.