NC Literary Hall of Fame



Hundred-Year Wave by Rachel Richardson

Carnegie-Mellon University Press
$15.95, paperback
ISBN: 978-0-887486104
February, 2016
Available from your local bookstore or

View the book trailer here!

"Reading Hundred-Year Wave I kept thinking of that moment in Moby-Dick when Ishmael, having taken a Nantucket sleigh ride into the heart of a megapod of sperm whales, leans over the gunwales, looks down, sees 'suspended in those watery vaults' mothers and newborn calves, a cetacean nursery, and notes the resemblance between the harpoon line and the umbilicus. Hundred-Year Wave is full of, makes music of, such furtive similitudes. Following a 'great pulse and signal,' Richardson has gone diving into the twilight zones of language and metaphor, history and story, eros and grief, motherhood and marriage, and resurfaced with poems that, one almost feels, could light lamps."
—Donovan Hohn, author of Moby-Duck

"Immaculately yet organically structured, Rachel Richardson’s Hundred-Year Wave dives and sails and swims from the cosmic to the personal, accounting for the epical, sublime and tragic, and the lyrical, hymnal and elegiac. The sea is the book’s domain and the source of energy, its grief and solace; and in wave after wave of remarkable poetry bearing wit and grit and tenderness it heralds the arrival of a poet of great poise and prodigious lyrical gifts."
—Khaled Mattawa

"Rachel Richardson’s Hundred-Year Wave is a gorgeous book that borrows its vast subject matter from new parenthood, marriage, the ocean, whales, and Sylvia Plath. The poet knits each poem with such care—stitch by stitch, loop by loop, word after word into an effortless collection of quiet yet haunting music lush with texture and feeling. Her gifts are wide and deep like the ocean, as she shows us that 'we are not lost/in the vast expanse of lostness.'”
—Victoria Chang

In Rachel Richardson’s second collection of poems, she juxtaposes the grand quests of Ahab and Melville with the quotidian journeys of contemporary life. Hundred-Year Wave launches stories of marriage and motherhood over the currents of a nearly mythological ancestry: women and men who built their possessions out of iron and flour and whalebone and wool. If reaching back into the past is akin to plumbing a depth, then Richardson exhibits the rare abilities of craft to build, from our language, vessels light enough to travel on that element, but sturdy enough to weather the storms we are likely to find there.

Rachel Richardson has published poems in the New England Review, Slate, Southern Review, Ninth Letter, and elsewhere. She holds an MFA in Poetry from the University of Michigan and an MA in Folklore from the University of North Carolina. Her awards include a Wallace Stegner Fellowship, a Hopwood Award, and scholarships to the Bread Loaf and Sewanee Writers' Conferences. She has taught in several prisons, public schools, and universities, and lives in Greensboro, North Carolina.

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