Brooke Larson is the author of Pleasing Tree, published by Arc Pair Press, and Origami Drama, published by Quarterly West.
Brooke! Hi. Thanks so much for doing this Q&A.
I recently finished reading Origami Drama, which has a few overlapping essays / prose poems / dramas with Pleasing Tree and the one emotion that felt really solidified from reading both books is joy. Both books contain feelings of angst, loneliness, even something like existential despair, but instead of trekking into an abyss, you and your speakers seem to find a haven in these liminal spaces, between the sacred and the profane so to speak, the body and soul, in the folds in the Origami pieces, and in those liminal spaces, there is a lot of laughter and silliness and a love of life. Why do you think that is?
Brooke Larson talks with Eliot Parker on Now, Appalachia about her Arc Pair Press nonfiction collection, Pleasing Tree, essay writing, urban loneliness, and her Quarterly West chapbook, Origami Drama.
Essayist Brooke Larson guest blogs for Dawning of a Brighter Day, the blog for the Association for Mormon Letters, writing about her ANASAZI experience and providing lots of excerpts from Pleasing Tree.
Find the full text here.
~ from the essay " Sacred Spirit Medicine: “Sacred Spirit Medicine”
Pleasing Tree by Brooke Larson
How did we get here?
God was my youthful drug of choice. I’ve heard descriptions of the euphoria and hard fall of heroin that uncannily resemble the experience of my girlhood prayers. Curiously, I never had that experience when I tried heroin. I never felt anything out of the ordinary when I took ecstasy. My non-experiences of these drugs baffled others and greatly frustrated me. Drugs would always seem modest in comparison to my mutterings in pajamas at my long ago bedside.
We're thrilled to show off the front cover to Brook Larson's forthcoming essay collection, Pleasing Tree. Thank you so much to cover designer Dustin Hyman!
Here's a little bit of what people are saying about Pleasing Tree:
“Pleasing Tree is a natural history of Larson’s vagrancies: guiding YoungWalkers in the Sonoran wilderness, drinking an Amazonian psychotropic herb on Rockaway Beach, falling in love with a dewdrop above Salt Lake City, pissing in the canyons between the buildings in Manhattan, or walking with an Armenian-Palestinian in Jerusalem’s Christian Quarter. While there are stories here, Larson never allows them to unfold in a straight line. Instead they ramble like her footprints—a crooked braid. Experience as viewed through lattices, the branches of a tree or the reticulations of the cultures she’s adopted. Her language tumbles like a creek, dances like a flute player. Words conjoin and re-conjoin, kinky: facial beehive, piss alchemy, pan-species foreplay, sopping bloodknot, twilit bullshit. This frolic across landscapes, cityscapes, and inscapes is purposeful play, exploring desert blandness and urban loneliness, seasonal affective disorder and communion with plants, the plight of Palestinians and of lovers, the science of stomach bacteria and the mysticism of light and water. As she writes, ‘The world is obscene with meaning.’”
~ John Bennion, author of Falling toward Heaven and An Unarmed Woman
“Brooke Larson’s Pleasing Tree is a pilgrimage through landscape and thought, an ecstatic meandering most beautifully wrought, visionary in its wandering. In this deft collection of essays branching with the largess of cellular star stuff, Larson’s writing jolts so expansive it becomes difficult to see the world without a shimmering awareness mystifyingly close.”
~ Rebbecca Brown, author of They Become Her and Mouth Trap
Our first essay collection, PLEASING TREE by Brooke Larson, will be available in the early months of 2019. It's about Mormons hiking in the desert and the human relationship with the wilderness. It's really good.
Brooke Larson is a writer, collagist, and fungi enthusiast. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Columbia University, and is currently a PhD student in English at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. Her poems, essays, and art have recently appeared in Foothill Journal, Split Rock Review, Gravel, The Swamp, Timber, Split Lip Magazine, and The Journal of Creative Geography. She calls home Arizona’s Sonoran Desert, where she is a sometimes wilderness guide.