In Below Zero, her fourth poetry collection, Carol V. Davis explores Siberia, an area in Russia largely unknown to Americans. Flying into Ulan-Ude, capital of Buryatia Republic, where she had never been, she mutters a prayer that her plane will be met. On a trip to Lake Baikal, she and her colleagues drive past trees strung with Tibetan prayer flags and stop to drop rubles in the lap of a Buddha. In Irkutsk, when her host dips a finger in a glass of beer and taps it on the tabletop, “For the house spirits,” she thinks of her own Passover, “finger dipping in the wine.” Intermingling faith practices, shamanistic rituals jostle with Russian Orthodox blessings. Amid a harsh life in winter “below zero,” the poet finds wonder and majesty in the vast landscape and the warmth of people who welcome her. These poems wander over borders, America to Russia, Los Angeles to Nebraska, from cities to tall grass prairie to forest. Faith and doubt, magic and superstition, place, cultures, and family history weave through this journey, inviting us to ask ourselves: Where do we belong and why?
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Published by Stephen F. Austin University Press