by Adrie Kusserow
Foreword by Yusef Komunyakaa
Published by: Duke University Press Books
176 pages, 152.00 x 229.00 mm
Adrie Kusserow is Professor of Anthropology at St. Michael’s College and the author of Refuge, Hunting Down the Monk, and American Individualisms.
Yusef Komunyakaa is Professor of English at New York University and a Pulitzer Prize-winning author of numerous books of poetry.
“In this memoir to a shaken world, Adrie Kusserow roams India, the Sudan, and Vermont, feeling out the vulnerable spots that throb and swell. Words are flocks of murmurations hidden in a refugee’s coma or in fields wild and still as the arctic blue. Trauma bullies resilience. Teenagers wade ghostlike, hungover on bytes. Adults hard-watch like hooded falcons. We are prompted into what knowing could be.”~Kathleen Stewart, coauthor of, The Hundreds
“Adrie Kusserow’s The Trauma Mantras spares no one-not the author herself and not the reader who encounters her unflinching anthropological gaze and vivid, often searing writing focused on the experience of refugees in Southern Sudan, Nepal, and Vermont. In powerful scenes and unforgettable images, Kusserow captures the force of the sacred and complicates the idea that embracing trauma is a required component of healing. She dedicates this work to all refugees, everywhere. It is a courageous and insightful book.”~Renato Rosaldo, author of, The Day of Shelly’s Death: The Poetry and Ethnography of Grief
“A singular gem of a book. Part invitation, part memoir, The Trauma Mantras is an intimate reflection on how culture shapes our experiences—from refugees’ lives and being American to family, illness, and the possibilities for healing and going home. In this stunning book, Adrie Kusserow shares her poetic gifts while baring her ethnographic heart. Read and you will be the richer for it.”~Carole McGranahan, editor of, Writing Anthropology: Essays on Craft and Commitment
“In this stunning collage of vignettes, Adrie Kusserow seamlessly bridges anthropology, poetry, and memoir, shamans and iPhones, and offers a manifesto for refugees everywhere. The Trauma Mantras teach us how the deepest healing comes from the magic of words woven into stories that affirm the scary yet beautiful mysteries of life.”~Ruth Behar, author of, The Vulnerable Observer: Anthropology That Breaks Your Heart
“The Trauma Mantras reads like a diary, a logbook, of travels to the margins, but the balance between the voices of others and Adrie Kusserow’s own meditations makes it an astonishing mix of research and quest that cannot be covered by a single descriptor. You will be riveted by the beauty of her writing, the autumnal mood of separation and loss that permeates these pages, and the deft ways she interweaves her own experiences with those she documents in remote corners of the world where refugees collect like leaves, blown hither and thither on a dusty street.”~Michael Jackson, Harvard University
“Trained as an anthropologist and nurtured as a lyric poet, Adrie Kusserow has written a book illustrative of the many cross-cultural journeys she has taken, not as a tourist or a bystander, but as someone committed to hard-core development work with the people who need it the most. This life and these struggles inform her writing in deeply abiding ways. The prose is penetrating, and I envy the way it sometimes explodes off the page in realization of the brute facts of our lives. Present also throughout is a keen sense of good science, woven into these narratives like a golden thread that serves as an unwavering foundation. Kusserow has taken something very big and reduced it to more than manageable prose passages, sometimes only a page long, that resonate, shimmer, even, on the page, with startling observations of the failed beauty of our humanness, with some antidotes for our survival. Pick this book up, read a few paragraphs, anywhere, then I know you’ll walk away with a copy and be glad.”~Bruce Weigl, author of, The Abundance of Nothing: Poems
“While reading The Trauma Mantras I found myself compelled and broken by the people who populate these stories—including the author herself, who examines the emergence of her own confusion as she lives and works in places most of us only hear about or see on television before being offered some dimwitted commercial relief. Adrie Kusserow writes as our avatar. It’s a daring book, troubling and beautiful in its revelations about human resilience and vulnerability in the face of systemic cruelty. Throughout her work that is chronicled here, she asks questions that few would dare—questions essential for all of us who aspire to our full humanity. The great poet, Theodore Roethke, has written ‘In a dark time, the eye begins to see.’ This riveting collection by Adrie Kusserow is clear evidence of this.”~Tim Seibles, author of, Voodoo Libretto: New and Selected Poems
“Adrie Kusserow’s The Trauma Mantras is an unapologetic and courageous book. Where others would have perfunctorily narrated stories of participating on the fringes of geopolitical conflicts that inevitably yield witnessing as a default to global suffering, Adrie’s deeply lyrical imagination transforms compelling anecdotes into testimonials of fiery indignation and contemplative wisdom. One feels this book in the body. Here is a self-critical look at compassion run amok as well as observations of the emptiness beneath our technological driven lives that sends us searching for meaning elsewhere. At the center of this book, however, is a pursuit for the self, marked by an abiding sense of justice and a loving concern for the earth and for the spirits that roam here.”~Major Jackson, author of, Razzle Dazzle: New and Selected Poems
“In The Trauma Mantras, Adrie Kusserow discovers a congruence both shocking and liberating: the congruence of trauma and eternity. Neither occupies a simple expanse of time, because each exists in an immeasurable and vividly detailed absence of time. Virtually every detail in this book—an animal’s leap in the snow, a refugee’s glance—elides narrative and progression, taking refuge in an eternity all and always its own. Such liberation transcends comfort and consolation. It is, even amongst the powerless, a pure and certain power.”~Donald Revell, author of, White Campion
"The Trauma Mantras is a an insightful lyrical memoir, featuring stories within stories and critiquing Western historical guilt as human beings try to live with different truths at the same time."~Leanne Galvan, Foreword Reviews
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