In The Evening and the Light, Barbara Varanka weaves together wonder, love and loss through rich and intimate imagery. Her embrace of nature melds truth with the fanciful — “I am confetti, alive and wild,/ unfurling the neighborhood,/ waking the dogs.” She stitches a through-line of family, celebrates heritage and hopes in crisp yet poignant detail. “Like a nesting doll/ she holds the future, outliving us all.” The achingly beautiful title poem walks us through grief and loss. “I wonder/ where she is and why/ she can’t be here,/ what she’s so busy doing.” The reader will want to linger and savor this fine collection.
-Susan Carman, poet and past poetry editor of Kansas City Voices
In The Evening and the Light, Barbara Varanka channels H.D.’s lyric attention to the natural world, inviting the reader to revel in the pleasure of earth’s garden, urging, “The lilacs get you drunk at the gate.” Yet, like the wild strawberry, a plant that appears in several poems, the root structure of this collection is rhizomic, tracing the tendrils that connect the poet’s life to a legacy of women who cook, love, have children, and lose them. Declaring “My name is native,” Varanka roots the reader in a poetic landscape of inheritance both familial and natural, a placement that allows for comfort even in the face of loss.
-Ruth Williams, poet, professor, and editor; author of Flatlands (Black Lawrence Press, 2018), Nursewifery (Jacar Press, 2019) and Conveyance (Dancing Girl Press, 2012).
Barbara Varanka’s collection invites us to hold the light and encroaching darkness in one palm, like delicious mysterious berries, and pop them into our mouths. Poems of the kitchen, the body, and the body’s kitchen, Varanka pays homage to loss and love, reminding “In difficult sugar, there is still sweetness.” Mothers and mentors and daughters and “the darkest knot” that tethers them to one another is what Varanka illuminates with the warm oven light of her poems.
-Piper Abernathy, poet and teacher
Barbara Varanka's poems have appeared in CALYX, Off The Coast, The Twin Bill, and elsewhere. She is a proud graduate of the University of Missouri - Kansas City Creative Writing MFA Program. She works as a software business analyst, and lives in Kansas City with her family.