How Light Reaches Us: Poems

Cover art by Rakar West.


Available now from Kelsay Books/The Aldrich Press!

Also available in Portland, Oregon at Another Read Through and Backstory Books.

“Kristin Berger’s How Light Reaches Us is a finely woven, image-rich exploration of self and landscape that gets to the very core of what poetry is about: language borrowed from the land, yet language of a voice so true that there could be none other. Berger’s language, then, is both lovely and lucid, leading us to “that sharp time of sage / blooming from my skirts,” to the deep knowledge of place found only by keen understanding and her even keener pen. In reading her book, we can’t help but become our own wardens of the land because her lyric is so sure, creating in us not just the “proof,” as she writes, but the necessary yearning “of this strange love / loping the steppe like hunger.” It’s a hunger nourished throughout the book but not sated until the last fine poem. It’s a hunger we need.”

– Simmons Buntin, Editor-in-Chief, A Journal of the Built + Natural Environments

“Slip out of the main stem of the world,” begins Kristin Berger’s poem Oxbow. “Detour,” it lures. This is the journey How Light Reaches Us takes us on: Into our rapturous interior, revealed through the penetrating gaze of landscape. To be included among these poems is a kind of worship. They reach like great redwoods steeped in season, time and sky. My own animal ache is more vivid and vast as I stand in this glade of interstitial light.”

– Sage Cohen, author of Fierce on the Page (forthcoming from Writers Digest Books), and Like the Heart, the World: Poems, (Queen of Wands Press)

“In her recent collection, How Light Reaches Us, Kristin Berger offers “…a thousand collaborations between night and the world…” The body is a landscape and the elements of the earth seek touch in Berger’s meander through the territories; tremulous, aching for an absent other. It is hot there, icy in “the creep of winter,” wrecked with contradiction, so ready for something just ahead, almost seen, where “a train, far off, is as insistent as a rusted tragedy.” It might be painful but (oh my) “I have tasted you my whole life.”  Surrender to it, reader, because only then will you find “the one wide and waiting in sweet ambush.” Only then will you see the light.”

– Sandra Kleven, Editor, Cirque: A Literary Journal for the North Pacific Rim

CéjaThalwegJaralDesire Path: line of trees edging a meadow, underwater divide in a stream, scrub plains, shortcut through a wild place. This book contains all of these. Her vision heightened by time spent in the Oregon outback, Kristin Berger conveys and re-creates the deep sensuality of landscape. The whole beautiful collection is a love poem to our physical world.”

~ Penelope Scambly Schott, author of A Is for Anne: Mistress Hutchinson Disturbs the Commonwealth, Oregon Book Award


For the Willing: Poems 

Finishing Line Press, 2008.


“These are poems to conjure with. For us, the willing, Kristin Berger tells the natural history of motherhood as tautly, as fiercely, as just plain — well — as I’ve ever read it. From the roots of beets to the dust-bowls of wrens to the blue highways of birth-ready breasts and the arc of a kid on a bike, her poems travel for the garden, for the world, for all of us.”

~ Robert Michael Pyle, author of Mariposa Road: The First Butterfly Big Year, and The Thunder Tree.



VoiceCatcher 6Edited by Kristin Berger and Toni Partington, 2011.



Featuring 45 female authors and 25 female artists from the Portland/Vancouver area in the Pacific Northwest, VoiceCatcher 6 captures the diverse voices of award winners, emerging writers, and beginners through a rich selection of poetry, prose, and the visual arts.

VoiceCatcher Journal