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An Astonishing Plentitude

Posted on: March 5, 2019


[This poem first appeared in Alpinist 65, which is now available on newsstands and in our online store. Sarah Audsley is a climber and poet living in the White Mountains region of New Hampshire. In January 2019, she completed an MFA in Creative Writing from Warren Wilson College. She has received support for her creative work from the Rona Jaffe Foundation and the Vermont Studio Center—Ed.]

Cannon Cliff in winter. In a crag profile of Cannon Cliff for Alpinist 21, Freddie Wilkinson wrote, Welcome to New England's biggest wall, where 1,000 feet of rivalry, bad weather and exfoliating granite never felt so good. [Photo] Sarah AudsleyCannon Cliff in winter. In a crag profile of Cannon Cliff for Alpinist 21, Freddie Wilkinson wrote, "Welcome to New England's biggest wall, where 1,000 feet of rivalry, bad weather and exfoliating granite never felt so good." [Photo] Sarah Audsley

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[We asked Sarah Audsley to share a bit about the making of this poem and how it arose from some of her climbing experiences. The following is her response.—Ed.]

The White Mountains region of northern New Hampshire has been where I call home since 2009. I fell in love with the glacially carved notches and jutting rock faces of the varied terrain, and I continually return to roam at Cannon Cliff and Franconia Notch. Writing "An Astonishing Plentitude" was a way for me to offer a strong first person speaker (a bit of myself) interacting with her surrounding landscape, and contemplating the contrasts of wild vs. tame, body vs. land and movement vs. stillness. "What does the body do / that the land cannot do? / I mean, for itself." Here's to finding what moves you on the page or in the mountains. May you be so astonished.

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