H E R M E N E U T I C   C H A O S 


P I A   T A A V I L A - B O R S H E I M

Cover Art: Kathleen Piercefield

Publication date : January 2017

Pages : 40

​Hand sewn, open edition

Pia Taavila - Borsheim reading from Mother Mail at Bridgewater International Poetry Festival 2017

Pia Taavila-Borsheim grew up in Walled Lake, Michigan, and lives now in Fredericksburg, Virginia. She received her BA and MA in American Literature from Eastern Michigan University (1977, 1979) and an interdisciplinary Ph.D. (1985) from Michigan State University in English, Sociology, and Philosophy. She is a tenured, full professor and teaches literature and creative writing at Gallaudet University in Washington, DC. In 2008, Gallaudet University Press published her collected poems, Moon on the Meadow: Collected Poems 1977-2007; Finishing Line Press Two Winters in 2011. Her poems have appeared in several journals including: Southern Humanities Review, Narrative Northeast, Tar River Poetry, Barrow Street, Threepenny Review, Wisconsin Review, Birmingham Poetry Review, Gargoyle, storySouth, 32 Poems, Measure, and The Southern Review, among others. She is a frequent participant at the Bear River, Sewanee and Key West writing conferences. Her poems have been nominated for Best of the Net and Pushcart Prizes. 


Pia Taavila-Borsheim's 'Mother Mail' is a fierce and powerful chapbook that wields emotions right at the throats of the readers.  Haunting and passionate, vividly wrenching in detail, expanding & twisting between the sounds of leaves crushed by steps walking away, this is a collection that witnesses the intimate ways in which experiences gather and narrate lives in the most unflinching and daring ways.


In Pia Taavila-Borsheim’s dark and beautiful collection of poems, Mother Mail, scenes of nature become vibrant bodies—quiet and audacious, bold and erotic, frail and tender. Haunted by family history, these poems explore the connections and disconnections of motherhood and the ever-present company of death, even in the most picturesque landscapes. But, like the enduring gardens these poems so often describe—with the comings and goings of color and life—hope is always showing itself: “Still, / honeysuckle persists, fragrant, wild, / and berries will ripen in the winter to come.” These poems are letters; these poems are prayers.   

-Richie Hoffman, author of Second Empire

"The essence of things is what interests me now,” says the speaker of one of this collection’s finest poems. But it might as well be the speaker of every poem in Mother Mail because each one feels truly elemental. What we encounter here is the stone-ness of the stone, the flight of the heron beyond all human concerns, the bones within our bodies as the bones that one day won’t be. It’s a book for fierce yearning and a harrowing confrontation with memory and grief. Through these profound and courageous meditations, one might earn “a life / worth its silence, its simple, sacred yearnings.

-Dan Albergotti, author of Millennial Teeth

The poems in Mother Mail are songs of lament. A child returns home a stranger. Meanwhile, the Canada geese pass northward. What becomes of family, what departs? Pia's poems are words of love uncollected outside the door.

-E. Ethelbert Miller, author of First Light and On Saturdays, I Santana With You



Tonight, the sky’s blue-black crease,
its rippling tides of thunder,
break into my sleep.

There’s more to this than sorrow,
more than the earth’s caverns
and craters can bear. 

An amniotic caul stretches across
a vale of endless tears,
and we are rent.

Spillways, sluices, flood
the countryside, send
all birds winging.

Nothing will hold, not even
green grasses, their roots,
nor the grasping trees.



Mother Mail

By Pia Taavila - Borsheim