Alphabet of Bones


Available to purchase at:

Flying Pig Bookshop, Shelburne, Vermont:

Peace & Justice Store, 60 Lake St. Burlington, Vermont 05401. (

Praise for Alphabet of Bones:

Alexis Lathem’s poems are steeped in patient observations and a deep comprehension of the grace and tragedy of human life, of the mysteries of the natural world and our fragile place within it.  Perhaps most of all these poems are shaped by an understanding of the power of language — its music as much as its meaning.  Alphabet of Bones is a grave, beautiful accomplishment.

–Jane Brox, author of Brilliant, Five Thousand Days Like This One, and Here and Nowhere Else.

Alexis Lathem’s Alphabet of Bones has been a long time coming. I know as much from following her work since its early and already striking examples. The wait was entirely worth it. Ever conscious of extinction and threats of extinction, human and natural, Lathem nonetheless gives us hope by way of her lyric clarity, her stunning eye for detail, and her moral persuasiveness. Even in her quietly apocalyptic central poem, “Book of the Sixth,” to my mind the volume’s tour de force– even– or perhaps or especially– there, we think, This is what human sensibility remains capable of at its finest!

– Sydney Lea, Vermont Poet Laureate and author of I Was Thinking of Beauty, To the Bone, and Ghost Pain.

From a 2009 interview in Saranac Review, which published the long poem “Alphabet of Bones” in Issue #3 (2008):

“Alphabet of Bones” was probably the first long poem I ever wrote. It was the material of the poem that required the larger format. It’s a landscape poem about the vast, wide-open landscape of the northern forest-tundra, where caribou make their epic journey in unfathomably enormous herds. It simply required a large canvas. The poem refers to the construction of a colossal hydroelectric project and the consequent reconfiguration of the landscape. I don’t think it’s a subject that can be dealt with in a short poem. Over a period of four years I made many visits to the aboriginal communities that were opposing these projects – communities that have a 9,000 year history with a particular place. So I was responding to the sense of a millennial connection to place, something that is foreign to a culture that can’t remember as far back as last week.

(Continue reading….

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