The Natural History of a Blade portrays a life among the Appalachian Mountains of North Carolina. At a meeting place of landscape, language and memory, the poems of this collection articulate liminal spaces—where animal and human, the wild and cultivated roam and intersect. Broadly, the poems explore the origins of the word, blade, with meanings of leaf, blossom and sharp edge. From this approach—new growth and old, the forms of nature and the tools by which we mark the natural world around us—are the poems’ chief interests. This debut collection by Philip Arnold enacts experiences within a wider pattern of ritual and lore, where older rhythms may possibly enrich the circulations of the present.
“Philip Arnold’s wonderful collection of poems, The Natural History of a Blade, is set in and inspired by the North Carolina Mountains. In it exists the luminous intersection between the earth the speaker treads and a vanished world he longs for. This is a contemplative volume: hushed, solemn as vespers, yet jubilant with “the tossed / and restless earth, pouring out / its life through the difficult / and miraculous growth.” Arnold reckons this mysterious earth, parsed out in splendid language, and reimagines it as his holy plat of remembrance.” - Joseph Bathanti
“The intellect is a cleaver, Thoreau wrote when the creek pebbles turned astral. If the Walden dweller had read Philip Arnold’s The Natural History of a Blade, he would have appreciated how the axe-sharp words open soil, tree-rings, shadows. Arnold penetrates the surfaces in order to build. A house, yes, but more subtle structures: thresholds, peripheries, these very poems. The elegist’s question always is: what remains behind in the passing? Arnold is not afraid to watch his well-wrought designs decay. He knows that the verse, if pitched right (his is), will always alert us to storm light, and the morning star that is the sun.” - Eric G. Wilson
The Natural History of a Blade is available at Dos Madres Press