All in All
by Laura Chester

ISBN: 0-9656161-8-5
Saddle-stitched, $5.00
Publication Date: Spring 2000.
5.5 x 8.5 inches, 40 pages
(ISSN: 1527-9579, Volume 1, Number 2)

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All in All, by Laura Chester, is the second in Quale Press’s edition key satch(el) quarterly series of chapbooks of prose poetry. All in All is a collection of prose poem memoirs of growing up on a Midwest lakeside combined with period photographs. Recalling a “past that can’t crumble,” the prose poems and images create a haunting collage of a childhood and the memories “that they stir up . . . recollections of other incantations.”

“There’s a mysterious rich darkness in these sensuous glimpses of moments of growing up. Full of startling images, these pieces, though often beautiful, have an undercurrent that is edgy, strange. Family tangles, a childhood braided to the lake, the dock, the ice house often reveal a mix of fun and danger, comfort and something unsettling. Like film clips, each frame is visually packed and intense. There’s a darkness that glows, family ties that can cut but also hold tight. The writing flows like water, naturally, glinting, full of life and light even in the shadows.”
—Lyn Lifshin

“[All in All] enacts a renascent nostalgia akin to a Sunday afternoon flip through the family photo album. Each paragraph-length section embodies the kind of snap-shot moment that spins out beyond the frame in every direction, and not only temporally—Chester has a gift for imbuing a scene with a sense of ceaseless recurrence: somewhere, still, it goes on. Her thick, verbally infused language enters the past as if to reinvigorate its hunger by invoking its voice (along with all the particular objects that hang from that voice).”
—Kim Fortier, Rain Taxi

An Excerpt and Visual from All in All...

When the winds changed off the lake — a brisker blue as the leaves lightened, then clothes thickened to wool layers and hair got braided. Chestnuts hung in their spiked burrs. So hard to wait, we sometimes shook the limbs instead. Better to let them loosen alone, each singular, dark-oiled nut within, its light matte spot like a birthmark. I touched the luscious red-brown skin over my lips like the perfect kiss, then hurled it far away as I could — ran to gather a napkin full, my package of plenty, a rumpy harvest that made a soft and generous clicking, as they rubbed together, as I swung my parcel, feeling rich, really loaded. Autumn releasing her leaves as well. The wind swirled, making me leap, my lungs grow. I’d rake a pile to throne myself, count the beads of my chunky necklace. Brothers hammered a single hole, strung one chestnut and made it haul. I liked a group of them together best, like marbles, bagged, or eggs in a nest. Something about the way they moved — smooth, dark, oiled, cool — against each other I wanted to know.

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