Publication Date:  April 15, 2021
Paperback, 104 pages
ISBN:  978-1-937968-80-9

Booksellers:  Available from
Small Press Distribution

$22.50 retail, or
when you order directly from
Broadstone Books, below
Karren LaLonde Alenier is
the author of seven previous collections
of poetry, including
The Anima of Paul
, which the Grolier Bookstore of
Boston featured as a 2016 staff pick.

Looking for Divine Transportation
won the 2002 Towson University Prize
for Literature. Her poetry and fiction
have been published in such magazines
Mississippi Review, Jewish Currents,

Gertrude Stein Invents a Jump Early
, her jazz opera with composer
William Banfield and Encompass New
Opera Theatre artistic director Nancy
Rhodes premiered at New York City’s
Symphony Space Leonard Nimoy
Thalia in June 2005. She is currently
The title of Karren Alenier’s new collection, how we hold on, seems especially timely,
appearing at the end of a year of pandemic dislocations. But though Covid does make
an appearance here, her themes are far broader, timeless and universal: how we love,
how we deal with loss, how we find our place in the world, how we relate to family
and heritage, all topics to which she attends. In the poem “Homecoming” Alenier
writes of the Greek word
parea, for which there is no exact English equivalent, a term
for a group of friends who delight in one another’s company, for the joy of sharing
experiences:  “how / most importantly we can love / and help each other through /
celebration / and sorrow.”  In a very real sense, this collection is her invitation for us
to join her
parea, and to share in her celebrations and her sorrows.  

She writes poignantly of her father and especially her “partygirl mother” who
attempted to make “girl talk…with a daughter who read books she did not
understand.”  They and other family people the first two sections of the book. The
third section, “when it drops you gonna feel it” takes place largely on Jamaica, a
place dear to her and her late husband Jim (to whom the book is dedicated), for
which reason it also has pride of place on the cover of the book.

In the final section, many poems are letters written to her “Zayde Isaac”, a great-
grandfather who died in the previous pandemic of 1918, to whom she was introduced
through keepsakes, eyeglasses and letters, “things a loving widow showed / a
fiveyearold  me”, with whom she now reaches a new understanding:  “and now 2020 /
year of perfect vision a new pandemic this / widow me /sees.”  

In the title poem, reflecting on the things her late mother and husband chose to keep
closed away in chests, she writes,

    in my chest an aging heart brims
    with blood both beautiful and swift.

That blood courses through these pages, and they brim with life – with its celebration,
and with its sorrow.

Praise for Karren LaLonde Alenier & how we hold on

Karren Alenier’s lively and courageous formal curiosity shapes her work into
structures of confrontation and transformation, growing the poems in
how we hold on
across the personal and political landscape of a life fully lived.

                            —Annie Finch, author of
The Poetry Witch Little Book of Spells

Karren Alenier is a poetry marvel and a knower of the subtle practices of this art, its
entangled associative sounds, its music of memory. Poems in her new collection, like
“a walking bundle of frequencies” and “Sweetsop Bebop,” show her range and
formal acuity.
how we hold on dismantles time and form and reassembles the
shattered bits into little broken sculptures of reality. But among the disrupted,
disordered world depicted here also lie references to the Great Bell Chant and the
Oracle of Delphi suggesting a truth that is singing just below everything, though out
of earshot.
                            —David Keplinger, author of
Another City

I really like Karren Alenier’s voice in how we hold on. There is a fineness of feeling
and a quick intelligence at work here. These skillfully crafted poems are a joy to read.

                            —Lorna Goodison, Poet Laureate of Jamaica
how we
Poetry by
Cover artwork by Chris Hubbell, used by permission
collaborating with composer Janet Peachey and director Nancy Rhodes on What
Price Paradise
, the love story of Jane and Paul Bowles.

Scene4 Magazine, she writes feature articles, interviews, an arts blog called The
Dressing, and a monthly column on Gertrude Stein and the arts. She is author of
Steiny Road to Operadom: The Making of American Operas
, a book about
contemporary opera. She also writes film reviews for

She is a graduate of the University of Maryland College Park in French language and
literature and a fellow of the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. Since 1986, she
has worked in a leadership role with the literary nonprofit The Word Works,
promoting contemporary American poetry. She enjoys spending time with her New
Jersey-based son, daughter-in-law, and two grandsons. She lives in Chevy Chase,