The sun gradually reaches the hollow, throwing shafts of light and bars of shadow across the trail, and I’m suddenly back in my body, back in time, the light flickering through the trees like flashing fields from a boxcar.
Over the course of one year, Thomas Gardner records his runs. Fifty-two entries, none exceeding a paragraph. Each run is simultaneously captured in its precise moment and opened up to something timeless and limitless.
Radiant acts of attention illuminate every page: we are in the runner’s shoes, seeing the play of light and shade on the path ahead of us. Yet we are in the runner’s mind, too: with spiritual improvisations that turn from the twinges of Gardner’s body to meditations on grief personal and national, and to the works of such poets as Emily Dickinson, Walt Whitman and Elizabeth Bishop.
As the seasons and miles pass, Gardner moves through inner and outer landscapes. Freed by disciplined physical effort, the runner’s mind roams and mourns and remembers. Luminous with beauty, Poverty Creek Journal is a singular and remarkable work, a miniature marvel of nature writing, philosophy and poetry.
‘Does more than both the current science and the current literature to illuminate the mind mid-run . . . From the very beginning, though, Gardner’s journal makes clear how far it will diverge from a conventional runner’s log . . . his new work is closer in spirit to prose poetry . . . the literary references in Poverty Creek Journal do not seem directed to the external world so much as integral to the inner one – pages in a private anthology that leaf open as Gardner’s mind and body loosen . . . [It] makes something lovely and meaningful of a difficult year.’ New Yorker
‘Full of grace and truth.’ Marilynne Robinson, praise for John in the Company of Poets