Almost Everything, Almost Nothing

Our connections with the past, with each other and our surroundings, and with current events sculpt our attitudes and actions. In Almost Everything, Almost Nothing these moments of connection come and go, as though a needle were piercing and stitching a field of material, a material patterned with the more constant but with its own seasonally shifting cycles of birds and flowers and weather patterns. The current events of this decade lie here like bones or hues of ashes and bruise, the occasional seep of deep aches.

—David Anthony Martin, author of Span and Deepening The Map


Praise for Almost Everything, Almost Nothing

Almost Everything, Almost Nothing could be a definition of life—its potential promise, its potential curse. In this intense collection, K.B. Ballentine presents the dark ghost of loss and love, awakened and grieved amidst historical terror and the calming beauty of the natural world.

Often loss creates a personal aloneness the landscape cannot fill. Details in nature take on the heart’s shadows: Your father fading, liver bittering his body,/ rusting shut… In the title poem, Ballentine, a teacher in rural East Tennessee, witnesses the heartbreak of a gifted Appalachian student lost in a world of family men and a run-away-mother’s children she must care for. What can we do when terror strikes an ocean away in Europe—plant flower bulbs in winter before bluebirds signal Spring? Ballentine’s gift for story, imaginative diction and rich sensory imagery lead us through a four season journey in which we learn that, as humans, we can’t hide from our sorrows and live this gift of life. Her collection teaches us that poetry helps us belong to the ghost of our loves and silences, our leavings, losses and grief.

—Bill Brown, author of Elemental

Through these poems KB Ballentine opens us to the savor of life. She wants us to see, feel, hear, taste and smell that the world, moment by ordinary or agonizing moment, overflows with enlightenments and rewards. Throughout Almost Everything, Almost Nothing we are led on walks through the natural world of rose blossom and mimosa feather, mushroom huddle and carob shadow and, most of all, of light, to face with an open heart the complexity of being human where his hands trace whispers across her skin. We travel the seasons, natural and emotional, with her in these poems because of their interior intimacy, musical imagery and the sensuality driving them. Love, desire, history, memory, terror, longing—a whole range of trancelike connections with experience—KB embraces them all with close, sustained, transforming attention and insight rooted in oneness with the universe.

Mary Kay Rummel, poet laureate of Ventura County, CA, and author of The Lifeline Trembles