for “the sadness of the snow”

What’s remarkable about Elena Botts is not necessarily that she’s 20 years old and writing such ambitious and impactful verse but rather that her abstraction is of the rare warm and lyrical sort even in such icy climates. In this collection, Botts examines the fractures of light and the dissolves of winter for evidence of beauty and life. What we’re left with in the afterglow of her mining is a sense that the season for and the voice of this inventive young poet are forever ageless.

-Alan Semerdjian, poet, musician & educator

“Elena Botts, a winner of the 2013 Jacklyn Potter Young Poets award, in her second published volume of poetry “The Sadness of Snow,” has given us a work that is replete with intense sensitivity and a fertile imagination. Her poems are rich in dynamic imagery which she manipulates with dexterity and evocative tenderness. They explore a vast palette of colors and the entire keyboard of human emotions. Hers is a desolate, sincere meditation and vision of the world, love and nature. But embedded in her shadows are striking moments of luminosity, hope and haunting lyricism. In the poem titled “the story of how you lost all faith in yourself” she makes gorgeous music: it snowed once in Berlin in the springtime when every island was supposed to have meaning especially the island of peacocks but more so the isle of belles you took the train but never got off… The prose poems that form a large portion of this volume possess an interior strength and facilitate the exploration of varied rhythms and richly suggestive metaphors. Finally, for Ms. Botts, her art is a compulsion. In her poem “analogies” she writes: “being is like a song if you like to sing and do it well but only when you are in a room by yourself and not/ expecting anybody nor even trying to pass the time.” It is most comforting to discover this bold and vibrant new voice, a voice that we hope will continue singing for herself and for us.”

-Sydney March, English and Creative Writing Instructor, Montgomery College Associate editor, The Potomac Review Contributing Editor, The Sligo Review


for “we’ll beachcomb for their broken bones”

“Elena’s poems are impressively striking. I’m hoping I will someday meet his young lady who appears to breathe poetry from every pore. I was thoroughly moved by her mature handling of deeply complex themes, her masterful command of language, and the sheer emotional impact of her poetic expressions.”

—Sydney March, award-winning poet, essayist, and musician


Many years ago I listened to a mystical twilight album by Jane Siberry during a particularly late college (nearly) all-nighter at a the home of a college buddy. Siberry’s lyrics were fresh and unmanaged, like clean crisp unfolded laundry. Between the fabric of those words were voids, spaces, and the yearning texture of longing in the poet’s voice. I sat in the wee hours in my friend’s home listening to Siberry’s peculiar songs and absorbing a landscape solitude that lived by its own pressing and elusive logic. I was returning to a strange new home. This collection has some of those same qualities.

Language, much like dance, has a way of being reinvented, when an artist is trying to get at something that doesn’t convey under the familiar syntax. It’s an ongoing liberation and it’s hard won. elena botts is finding that rough, unsettled music in her works with all of the unsteadiness and brokenness of 21st century promises that litter our sidewalks, schoolyards and oceans. We live in unsettled times and some poets bring a hand-held camera by choice, words and ideas jerking in and out of focus, interrupting each other while somehow the music of the extended shot holds.


“…how the backyards of childhood, yesterdays like

little dogs that ran away

from home, close into the butterfly

glances and simple reenactments

of your freckled sideways glances

swinging and swinging under the canopy of spring, brewing nostalgia until the trees prematurely bend,

as if the blood in our arteries

were an afterthought in the so, nearly tragic underlying stillness…”

Let your ears absorb some of the logic here. Listen to the jagged stops and starts and allow these works to neither comfort nor perplex you. They are a dialect with built-in contradictions, blind spots and double backs. We need this: to be sent out into the danger of not knowing while we return to the sensing. Every new generation must get us there with a new and troubling orchestration. Read these pieces three times. Once with the “rational” on pause. Again for the music. And the third time because good things come in threes … except when we expect them to.

Don’t let these works meet your expectations, they are better than that and naturally resistant.

—Lucas Smiraldo, past poet laureate of the city of Tacoma and author of the poetry collection, The Thing That Gathers


for “a little luminescence”

“High school is not too early to be writing poetry that can be valued as literature. That is what elena botts’ book, a little luminescence, is. Marvel at this girl’s excitingly original imagistic language—moon washed up / in light-seeped sunrise /a gleaming shell on celestial shore; her delicacy with words like those describing love that moves through / the everyday / never mentioned / coming along beside us / silently; and her spiritual awareness—notes of a soul / in this breathing body resounding.”

—Maxwell Corydon Wheat Jr., First Poet Laureate—Nassau County, New York

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