M I N I N G   F O R   S T A R D U S T

 

MINING FOR STARDUST is a fiery and tender witness, a poetic chronology of one of the greatest collective paradigm shifts of our lifetime. Coggin’s first poem in the collection was written on the first day of the COVID-19 lockdown. Each subsequent poem moves the reader through the pandemic, the summer of protests, the U.S. presidential election, and toward what seems like the other side of this darkest time in our memory. She does not shy away from the atrocities and the heartbreak, but leaves the reader in a space of healing. Kai's poems are always also imbued with nature, birds, and love poems for her wife, her safe inner world. MINING FOR STARDUST is an intentional practice in finding streaks of light in the shadows, “sifting flakes of space for gold/ amidst the dark matter/ surrounding us on all sides.” It is memorial, grief, joy, beauty, truth, resistance, reflection, love, and balm for the aching human heart. It is the work of a scribe who earnestly engraves this moment into our human history. This collection is something you can hold in your hands, point to, and say, “I lived through all of this, too. I survived. I made it to the other side.” 

Published by FlowerSong Press November 11, 2021.

 

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I love this book. I love its starry figures and starry thirst, its cosmic expansiveness, its compassion for the injured and Covid, AIDS captured, for its wisdom and giving, and for its embroideries of lives to lives and life infinite. I love its purpose to embrace humanity in a time of apocalyptic inner and outer rage and isolation. Each line aches for an essence, a new system to build, an authentic, deep and spirit light of America. Kai sees deep and writes as if in a garden of celestial human quantum life breath. I thank Kai Coggin for this book of candles, of light years threaded to our love bodies.

Juan Felipe Herrera, Poet Laureate of the United States, Emeritus

In her recent poetry collection, Mining For Stardust, Kai Coggin brings her exquisite attention to the year 2020. Part eulogy for “not just numbers but human beings,” part call to conscience for racial, social and environmental justice, and part love song to her wife, this book is both marvel and balm. We are reminded of “our own common frailty,” our connection to each other, the planet, and the universe. Coggin is a poet of deep physicality and sensuality—“a mushroom’s underbelly”, the “unspeakable neon beauty” of a forest. What gives Mining For Stardust its remarkable vitality is Coggin’s gift of balancing grief with joy, even hope. “When the world is flooded with so much darkness,” she writes, “what else can we chase but the stars, but the blooming cosmos.”

Ellen Bass, Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets, author of Indigo

 

Like the very stars they speak of, these poems grant us light through resplendent language and imagery. They guide us like a constellation through the darkness of the pandemic, racial strife, and political crisis toward a new horizon with courage, perseverance, hope, love, and reverence for the cosmic within ourselves. Epic in scope yet intimate in detail, Mining for Stardust is, and will remain, a definitive chronicle of the emotional complexities we’ve had to navigate through during these tumultuous yet life-affirming times.

 

Richard Blanco, 2013 Presidential Inaugural Poet, author of How to Love a Country

 

Beautiful, lyrical, expansive, and sprawling, Kai Coggin’s Mining for Stardust is poem as prayer, poem as embrace. Navigating her way through the difficult political and personal times of our global pandemic, Coggin plants beauty everywhere, from her yard to her heart garden to the word garden that is this book. Page after page, poem after poem, I was broken open until I too was filled with hope and brightness, until I too was a planet, a wildflower, “light written in stars on a mountaintop.” Mining for Stardust is a place where the moon and heart are always full, and where the tenderness and passion of newlywed bliss ignites everything. Finishing this book, I wanted two things: to re-read it immediately and to gift it to everyone I encountered. For, if everyone were to see how beautiful it can be to live wide-open, as a conduit of love in all its forms and gestures, then I can’t help but feel that the whole world would change.
 

Melissa Studdard, author of I Ate the Cosmos for Breakfast

In Mining for Stardust, a chronicle that salvages life from a year of deadly pandemic, the poet lays her words down at “the holy feet” of her wife, and praises the sacred earthy gifts of fat frogs, red-bud blossoms, the “sun-bleached bones” of fox “vertebrae articulating/something I haven’t the words for yet.” She grieves and praises “the African dust…calling to her stolen children…the great gardener tilling the soil”--and grieves and praises the fallible humans, us in our “islands of want” that we turn into graveyards for burying, that we turn into gardens for planting. Jubilantly, she claims the queer beauty of the world, the Milky Way all “shimmer and shine” like fireflies-- “bioluminescent beings seeing each other.” She says to us, “It shines, darling—it shines for you.”

Minnie-Bruce Pratt, author of Magnified


Kai Coggin embraces Mother Nature holistically, reverently, ecstatically. Holistic poetry sees the connection between all living things, the world, the universe. Reverent poetry pays attention and gives praise. Ecstatic poetry sings life and death into being in words. But Coggin’s lesbian love poems are the most wonderfully moving for me, since they bring all of the above, plus two women together in nature. Mining for Stardust is a kind of cosmic healing our world desperately needs. 

 

Mary Meriam, author of My Girl’s Green Jacket

Kai Coggin’s fourth poetry book, Mining for Stardust, is a stunning and timely collection beginning at the start of the pandemic lockdown and taking the reader on an inspirational journey. Her opening poem centers the book in love; she asks “Who are you spending the end of the world with tonight? / Do yourself a favor and hold them tight.” Throughout this collection, vivid images capture our collective fears and our hopes, while always inspiring us to move forward. Coggin’s spectacular poems are a guidepost for these challenging times. She gifts us love in multiple forms, including love of her wife, love of community, and love of nature; love is the stardust connecting these poems. When Coggin tells us in the poem “I Wanted to Believe” that “we are all just searching out truth and tenderness, / some light to cling to in this darkness, / a feeling that we are still somehow connected” her words are a balm/a light/a ray of hope during unprecedented times.

JP Howard, author of SAY/MIRROR

Kai Coggin’s Mining for Stardust is filled with love poems—to her wife and the life they have made together, as well as to the natural world in which they’re both so immersed. This new collection reads as a kind of heartfelt journal of the first pandemic year, yet each of these wide-sweeping poems reaches far past current events, toward the more universal truth of “what stitches us together.” Kai Coggin is a necessary voice who knows how to praise this difficult world even as her poems call for social justice and equality, urging us all to “let what truly matters matter more than ever.”

James Crews, Editor of The Path to Kindness: Poems of Connection and Joy

Oh, it’s so good to get to live inside these poems, poems that dig in the dirt, slow dance in the hallway, fill jars with cinnamon, cumin, and sage. Poems that praise the living even as they count the dead. May they sing from balconies, plant seeds, open worlds—whole galaxies, to all who read them.

Danusha Laméris, author of Bonfire Opera