“There’s a fearlessness in the poems of Anne Pitkin’s But Still, Music. The poems span childhood, adulthood and everything in between: growing up in the Jim Crow south, marriage, divorce, the lifelong sorrow over a daughter’s passing, travel to distant lands, and the quiet glory of the natural world. Nothing is off limits, and that’s part of the bravery of this collection. Pitkin’s poems are both emotionally charged and restrained, the notes exact as a just-tuned piano. There’s evidence of musicality throughout, as in this sonorous line, “Cicadas sawed gritty fiddles,” from a poem called “Ghost Stories.” Pitkin’s book is full of such surprises, including occasional moments of mordant humor and deeply earned revelations. Pitkin’s book is just the sort of music we need, now more than ever.” —Ed Harkness, The Law of the Unforeseen & Beautiful Passing Lives
Full of warnings, arguments, and reckonings, Anne Pitkin’s But, Still Music attempts to move beyond a mindset “pretend[ing] all is well,” whether in home, community, nation, or world. Instead, she takes us, like an adventurer, into the various landscapes of “this blessed chaos” where we find no Keatsian nightingale, only a mockingbird “arguing in many voices.” “It’s a long story,” she admits, how we eventually come to understand the past; how, in time, we see through perspectives not our own; and how we find mercy, acceptance, perhaps even redemption, as we move farther and more truthfully “into our broken-open world.” —Jeff Hardin, Watermark and A Clearing Space in the Middle of Being
Anne Pitkin’s new book But Still, Music is a lyrical, moving symphony to loss, betrayal, illness, and all the myriad and sundry accidentals of this life on earth. Pitkin moves the reader with her adept and polished verses. She takes us from a southern childhood and on through adolescence, into motherhood, and beyond, into the northern latitudes. While all the seasons of earth and life are treated magnanimously in Pitkin’s collection, winter holds an especial fascination. For this reader, certain hallmark lines will never be forgotten. They speak, as do many other pure moments of witness, to the beauty of the ordinary transformed into the holy: “…alders reached into the early evening sky…/Reached above the traffic, the walkers, the lit shops, into the no-nonsense emptiness/ “where beauty offers no meaning, breaks no vows.” (“The Bare Trees,” 50) But Still, Music is a must read. —Judith Skillman, House of Burnt Offerings
ANNE PITKIN grew up in the South, Clarksville, TN, when it was still a small town. She attended Vanderbilt University when the Civil Rights Movement was getting underway. She graduated just after Bloody Sunday, the march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge. Some of the poems in this collection are about growing up as a privileged white child in the segregated South. Anne moved to Bellingham, WA when she married and subsequently to Seattle, where she has lived ever since. She has two grown children and two grandchildren. Their mother, her eldest, died three years ago. Many of the poems here address that loss. Anne is a retired community college English instructor. She went back to school and became a psychotherapist, sometimes practicing while still teaching. She is retired from both now. She plays jazz piano with her friends, pandemic permitting. She currently lives with her two dogs, Riley, an oversized Pomeranian and Klaus, a mini dachshund. This is her third full length collection, preceded by YELLOW and WINTER ARGUMENTS, and a chapbook NOTES FOR CONTINUING THE PERFORMANCE. Her poems have appeared in Poetry Chicago, Prairie Schooner, Alaska Quarterly Review, One, New Orleans Review, New England Review, Rattle and many others.