With abundant detail and in many voices the poet rounds out family history with sweetness, humor and presence, frequently moving back and forth from one era to another. In this way we see the family lines as they gather along the Eel, and disperse. . . . Zara Raab has long entranced us with glimpses into her ancestral life. Now we have the wonder of it in Swimming the Eel. We are grateful.
—Cleo Griffith, editor, Song of the San Joaquin
Swimming the Eel is a moving and impressive work of art. Its family history feels both intimate and mythic in its fresh iteration of a Western American archetype. [With] a combination of formal coherence and musical fluency, …a beautifully sustained sequence of poems.
—Stephen Kessler, author, The Tolstoy of the Zulus
This poetic chronology grips and blesses in a way that no history could, telling the story of the American West through family eyes, beginning with an “artless girl who kept a clean house over a green hill,” who is swept toward her future by life’s inevitable “waterfall of loss.” Charm and efficacy yield a light touch; yet the words speak of deep longing. . . amid the “pantaloons of soil along the river rock.“
—Cathy Luchetti, author of Women of the West
Who’ll join me. . . as the winter seance starts, wind rattling the pots? Zara Raab’s compelling dream of history, and the painful waking from it, merges inner life with outer world in these exhilarating lyrics of lost lifetimes in an outback corner of Northern California. A brew of wildness and domesticity. . . its pleasures are many. . .
—Beverly Burch, author of Sweet to Burn