Publication Date:  March 1, 2021
Paperback, 104 pages
ISBN:  978-1-937968-79-3

Booksellers:  Available from
Small Press Distribution

$24.50 retail, or
when you order directly from
Broadstone Books, below
Allison Thorpe left Wisconsin in the
1970s, traveled around the country, and
ended up in Metcalfe County, Kentucky,
where she homesteaded for almost four
decades. She has published work in a wide
variety of journals, received several creative
writing grants, and been nominated for two
Pushcart Prizes. Her dream is to become
an international poker player, smoke signal
aficionado, or first-time novelist, whichever
comes first. She now lives in Lexington,
After “Eavesdropping on the Poets at the Coffee House,” with their rage and
profanities, Allison Thorpe observes of her own poetry that she “could be Anne
Bradstreet / in my quaintness,” writing of “lilacs, / mourning doves, / tomatoes
embarrassed on the vine.” Let us praise such quaintness, then, for the wisdom she
imparts in this rich poetic memoir of her life as a country homesteader with her war-
haunted husband,
Reckless Pilgrims seeking solace on the land. Indeed she has titled
each section for a flower, and writes with great affection for nature, wild and
cultivated, of “this wonder of difference / that is our place in the world.” But even
from her opening poem, she makes it clear that the land is also haunted by the lives of
those who have come before, with the same dreams and needs, and recognizes that
“there is no real place to hide.” Later, after she is left a “
Widder Woman,” she leaves
the country for the city: “There is a road ahead, / and you have chosen its story”, the
story she tells in the final section evocatively titled “Forget Me Not.” But for all the
“rich showy life” of the city, she admits “the dull in me / pines that past, that plain /
and stilling moon.” She longs, like a remembered river, to be “just some unruly thing /
with no boundaries.” And so, though she claims at one point to have “lost poetry,” she
conjures a world with her words, of all that is missed, “this long traveled love, / these
spectral bones fleshing air.” And she finds comfort in “the old things”, including her
“spent body / Knees like a rusty gate / Mind a sputtering choke engine.” Even as she
describes herself now like those “ruins” she and her husband once found on their
farm, she ends in the prayer

    May we find value in what we are
    Not in what we lack
    May we, like the sun, wake and give light
    Flaring our colors wildly
    Before we tuck into darkness.

Praise for Allison Thorpe & Reckless Pilgrims

Welcome to the rich world of storyteller Allison Thorpe. The beauty, which “lived in
all things”, the “Giveth and taketh away moments”, the speaker’s “carrying the crease
/ of some sharp-eyed certainty” illuminate the day-to-day living and the war within
and without. Plants and animals take front stage with the metaphors of their lives,
relationships, functions and interactions. “How often do we look up/ for warmth,
beauty, answers?” asks this book and the fortunate reader who takes the journey will
be well-rewarded with insight.

                             —Katerina Stoykova, author of
Second Skin

Do not be misled by the title of Allison Thorpe’s newest collection. Each word, every
line of this welcome book is carefully evaluated and arranged. Her tender examination
of place and memory is steadfast and clear-eyed, never maudlin. Conflicts, natural
and human, are grappled with, resolved, mourned, even celebrated in these lush
poems. Here, the rotation of seasons brings specific gifts – harvested bounty or the
marauding threat of winter. There, one might find the “recklessness” alluded to in the
title – the abandon of spring, when nature indulges itself with color and abundance.  
Even as she turns away, with equal parts of sorrow and confidence, to take up city
living, her “eyes hurry to that green slash of life/that earthy illusion of roots” which
carpet her memories and lost mountain hollows. Thorpe’s plea and mantra can be
distilled to this line: “May we find value in what we are/ Not in what we lack.”
Looking back on the absences she considers, those shadows of the past, we share her
delight and abiding pleasure in what was and is still there, always at hand.

                     —Brigit Truex, poetry editor,
Hopper Journal & author of Sierra Silk

Rooted in both the love of a local place and the poesies of Kentucky, Allison Thorpe’s
poems are emblems of change that teach us to search, know, and then “relearn our
heart.” Thorpe’s “green theater of spreading hills” is a pilgrimage through a life rich
with wonder, love, damage, and loss. We are guided by the voice of the poet-farmer
singing the “joyous seeds of hope” as well as the poet-pilgrim who never shirks reality:
“fever, fires, insane / men who rule the world.” These remarkable poems navigate the
unique and striking journey of living a particular life with communal details and
astonishing imagery and pull us “like a rogue tide” toward “the next luring bend,
sparkled, drenched.”

                          —Marianne Worthington, poetry editor,
Still: The Journal
Poetry by
Cover artwork & design by Stephanie Potter