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Dale M. Kushner

Dale M. Kushner’s new collection M testifies to the heroic dimensions of women’s lives. The urgent voices in these poems, including Mary Magdalene, Eve, the Virgin Mary, and women experiencing violence across centuries and continents, are bearers of the sacred into the profane world of history—of men and war. Addressing both personal and collective struggles through a series of dramatic monologues, the speakers explore both radical and tender moments that break through the myths perpetuated in the name of the feminine. Ultimately, these poems become an enduring map of how resilience is forged from suffering and how desire, loss, and struggle are the spiritual path to transformation. 

M takes us on a journey through realms of soul on the paths of desire, sorrow, and transformation. It is a strong distillation of the poet’s passionate engagement with fate and destiny and a fine distillation of Dale M. Kushner’s passionate dedication to the deep mysteries of love in all times and places. Be brave—drink, and savor! The poems will take your breath away!

—Murray Stein, Jung’s Map of the Soul

Dale M. Kushner’s M is a book of spiritual reckoning and superb artistry, reminiscent of Rilke’s great New Poems volumes. Beginning with revisionist retellings of the Expulsion and the life of Mary Magdalene, the collection then circles outward to include a wide array of monologues and character studies as well as some moving elegies for the author’s father. M also is a marvelously cohesive collection, unified by its empathy, by the power of its witnessing, and by its devotional ardor. As Kushner writes in the closing poem, “This wasn’t the underworld. I was ascending/and everything demanded an upward gaze.”

—David Wojahn, For The Scribe

Dale M. Kushner’s remarkable M transports us into the regions of the underworld and overworld where desire’s destructive and generative impulses cannot be suppressed. The inventive substance and form of these poems is startling, satisfying at all times: There are poems here of “mad prayer” and of fabular horror/wonder and of stinging remembering and of outcry and of despairing questioning. M’s three sections, “Via Desiderio,” “Via Dolorosa,” and “Via Transformativa,” build in intensity, offering a rare experience of mysticism. This book of poems is, to say it simply, absolutely original.

—Kevin McIlvoy, One Kind Favor

From Eve to Mary Magdelene and through all her configurations, Dale M. Kushner’s M pulls us through the horrors of history in language rich with gorgeousness where “ugliness is a city of miserable thought” and “even the forsythia wears a yellow star.” Of personal loss and pain, the usual tropes of the poet, she flings us the “looping brain /trapped in its cycle of desperate/repair” to save us. Never mind Adam and the latest Hollywood hunk, here we have the true poet’s real paramour: language. One could bathe all day in the deliciousness of this book.

—Alice Friman, Blood Weather

Dale M. Kushner is a poet, essayist, and novelist and a longtime investigator of the intersection between the collective value of literature, archetypal psychology, and spirituality. In addition, she writes a monthly blog for the Psychology Today website, “Transcending the Past.” The Conditions of Love, her debut novel, was published by Grand Central in 2013. Her essay, “In Extremis: Jung’s Descent into the Language of Self,” is included in Jung’s Red Book For Our Time: Searching for Soul Under Postmodern Conditions, Vol. 4. Dale lives with her husband Burt in Madison, Wisconsin. She has just completed her second novel, The Lie of Forgetting, which explores how the unspoken intergenerational traumas of the past shape our lives.