Alma Almanac, Sarah Ann Winn


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“Alma Almanac is a stunningly original collection of poems about landscape, place, and memory. It is a lyrical scrapbook of skies, weather, stars, myths, recipes, rituals, and spells. From it, one can learn “How to Haunt,” how “To Preserve November,” and even find “Instructions for Assembling a Bento Box Memorial.” In addition to the more traditional poems, the book is “illustrated” with a series of short descriptions of objects, photos, and remembered sounds. These stark fragments, labeled and numbered like catalogue items, give a sense of the poet as curator, arranging, displaying, and creating her own museum of personal effects. Rather than narrating what they’re supposed to mean, I admire the restraint of simply letting these powerful details speak for themselves. I can guarantee this book is very pleasurable to read, as sensual as “the spectrum of apple colors” and as insistent as an audio cassette of a woman’s voice that “whispers the same five words again and again. Promise me you won’t forget.””

-Elaine Equi


“Sarah Ann Winn knows “darkness dilates,/never swallows us whole” and that the weight of memory is not its only force.  Alma Almanac is a guidebook for the conditions of its dark dilations; its instructions are accompanied by notes, beatitudes, mix tapes, imaginary figures, and lost wonders. These poems offer orientation by reaching into our desires and our imaginations.  These beautiful lyrics slow and expand time, their layered rhythms “unstung/by speed,” and initiate us not into miracle fantasies but into the visionary possible.”

– Mary Szybist


“In Sarah Ann Winn’s Alma Almanac, I am struck by the absolute radiance of these poems. They are at once a documentary and a reverie, with amazing knowledge of, and reverence for, the world they offer the reader. It is a rich world, what Guy Davenport calls “the geography of imagination,” where each thing rhymes with another, where each burden’s echo is a blessing, a surprise, and a delight. Winn has found in the almanac a perfect form for the hybridity of her ambitious, intimate, and moving project.”

– Eric Pankey


Alma Almanac is a book you’ll want to share with everyone, reading out your favorite passages at breakfast and only barely suppressing the urge to point out images to strangers on the subway. Sarah Ann Winn’s sparkling and melancholy, tender and tough-minded, wistful and generous first full poetry collection is full to bursting with ode and elegy, music and objects—lakes, loons, nebulae, Easter baskets and x-rays, ghosts and government cheese, a moth mistaken for a mother and a mother for a moth, who “will not fly again once you touch her…” That last item may remind you of Elizabeth Bishop’s enigmatic Man-Moth. Now and again, you may sense Bishop’s presence—that rich self-forgetful imagination—in Winn’s “awful but cheerful” glimpses of immensity. But don’t get me wrong! Sarah Winn’s is a new exciting voice, unmistakably her own. I can’t wait to see what she’ll do next!”

– Jennifer Atkinson


“Darkness dilates, never swallows us whole” Tweet this

“Allow for imposters among constellations” Tweet this

“Identify houses as you would birds, by markings on their wings” Tweet this

Baldwin Apples

In October, their vinegar
drew bees or decay’s sweetening
drew bees. We brought bushel baskets
and sorted. Some for the compost,
the gently bruised for pies. The best,
those half-gone with pocked, perfect skin
still a little green, for canning
and apple butter. The Baldwins
lured me to the kitchen counter.
The turn-and-scraping colander
mill when the cooked apples were poured in—
the splashed juice hot and delicious.
Space made by adding cooked apples
carefully. She tipped the ancient

Dutch oven, and my idea
of plenty poured down. Did you and she—
I asked. Hush, she answered. I didn’t dare
move or some would go to waste.
Save some for later, she said. Now
we restock the canned goods cupboard.
No beauty goes to waste here. Fill
the shelf. Put up for lean winter
the sweet of slowly gathering
afternoon, that long fragrant bake,
the whole house cooked up, and browned with
cinnamon. In winter, the sound
of that seal breaking snaps me back
to sorting apples in the sun.
Their scent rolled from Atalanta’s
fingers, the breath of Eve before she bit.

I Consider Whether Shipping Your Memory Home Would Be Too Costly

I take your memory out to the garage
to weigh it. The scale for this is ageless,
brings to mind counters and bulk foods.
Its shadow has stood for years, swaying,
its red needle uncertainly bouncing when jostled.

A hidden spring reveals a drawer underneath,
a set of weights in various shapes.
One, a net of light on water cast in lead,
another, a set of miniature music box gears,
each the weight of a different song, all in bronze,

saw-toothed as if meant for toy lumber mills.
I place your memory on the cradle, light as light,
which also has weight and substance—matter.
I add twenty snowflakes, winter preserves.
I tap the meter, which trembles, add lemon

from a cold tea cup, hum as much as I can remember
from “When the Roll is Called up Yonder.” Finally,
I open your last letter, unbend the handwriting
so each word straightens into a binary barcode of blue,
dole out these sticks to the tray. If it balances, you’ll go.


Sarah Ann Winn is the author of five chapbooks: Portage (Sundress Publications, 2015), Haunting the Last House on Holland Island, Fallen into the Bay (Porkbelly Press, 2016), Field Guide to Alma Avenue and Frew Drive (Essay Press, 2016), Ever After the End Matter (Hermeneutic Chaos Press, 2017), and Exhibition Catalog from the Grimm Forest Open Air Museum (Yellow Flag, 2017). She is also the author of Alma Almanac (Barrow Street Press, 2017). Other work has appeared in such journals as Codex, Five Points, Hayden’s Ferry Review, Massachusetts Review, and Tupelo Quarterly. She has been a fellow at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. She currently serves as Reviews Editor for Tinderbox Poetry Journal, is a poetry editor at Cider Press Review, and is the founder of Poet Camp, a roving residency for women writers. She lives in Manassas, Virginia, where she teaches poetry workshops and lives with her husband, two lovely dogs, and one bad cat.