Elizabeth Bradfield's third collection of poems returns to her investigations as a naturalist in the world. How does a right whale corpse help illuminate a grandmother's grief? Can recognizing a bird call out of range serve as a point of connection between two people?
The poems of Once Removed are intimate, wry, desperate, and searching. They explore how we connect (and fail to connect) to the social, familial, and environmental worlds we live in.
From Alaska to Cape Cod to Bradfield's childhood home in the Pacific Northwest, place shapes these poems. They look outward, armed with science and grounded by love, in order to understand the deeply mysterious terrain of our humanity.
(read poems from Once Removed)
Reviews of Once Removed
...The uneasy connection between ecological mindfulness and expedient economics complicates Bradfield’s perspective, making her a trustworthy guide...Encounters in the wild, in non-traditional families, and in distinctive cultural settings occasion poems in which the speaker negotiates physical and psychological proximity. The ghazal “At Sea,” a rich rendering of weeks on a boat, includes this couplet on the speaker’s intimate life: “Rendezvous in the gear locker, tryst in dry stores. Unbound / horizon and surge. A pity it’s strange to be queer at sea.” I admire Bradfield’s handling of the contrast between “gear locker” and “dry stores” and “unbound / horizon and surge,” vivifying the confinement the queer couple experiences. The “confinement” of living in a single (human) body comes up throughout the book...
—Robin Becker, reviewing Once Removed in The Georgia Review
Some poets take nonhuman nature as just one more subject; for Bradfield, however, plants and animals—Atlantic seascapes, tropical forests, marine mammals, migratory seabirds—give most of her poems their reason to exist... Bradfield also writes honestly, lovingly, of her partner (a woman), her sister, and her sister’s young child, but the dominant notes come from far outside Bradfield’s home life—from the wooden maps of Inuit navigators; from the vicissitudes of shipboard life in her lengthy ghazal “At Sea”; from “the iced-over river, Alaska Range,” with its “spruce and spruce and a few hours / of thin blue sky.”
—Stephen Burt in the Fall/Winter 2015 issue of American Poets
Praise for Bradfield's Poetry
Bradfield's poems guide us alertly into this treacherous territory pocked with political pitfalls and theoretical quagmires. One hardly notices the perils that abound because Bradfield is such a deft naturalist, with a keen eye.
—Jon Christensen, reviewing Interpretive Work in The San Francisco Chronicle
Elizabeth Bradfield's passion for her subject and her acuity and great sensitivity to language make Approaching Ice a fine collection that will fit nicely on shelves of natural history books as well as those for poetry.
—Jennifer Jefferson, reviewing Approaching Ice in The Rumpus
Bradfield is much more than a naturalist with a pen. Her poetry crosses and redefines boundaries, illuminating the silent, isolating misconceptions in the human narrative.
—Jennifer Garfield, reviewing Interpretive Work in Bookslut
At once erotic and unnatural, scientific, and humane, the work presents a beautiful and grim and threatened lexicon of ice and icebergs. Examining "the age-old lust for places/ we pretend are free of consequence," Bradfield also reminds us of our ultimate limitation—mortality—and of the faint human traces any of us, even the boldest, leave.
—Tess Taylor, reviewing Approaching Ice in The Barnes & Noble Review