The Real Ethereal

Katie Naughton

The Real Ethereal Katie Naughton

About halfway through first reading The Real Ethereal, I discovered myself whispering. The words had moved from my mind to my mouth unbidden, for these poems, their serious music, their urgent address, demand to live in the air. “The sliding sounds of daily being,” manifested in precisely rendered detail after detail, accumulate as a book-long elegy for all the voices lost to us, all the beloved beings left behind. For though there are achingly particular addressees, Naughton’s propulsive and finely tuned lines speak to and about the loneliness that is everyone’s. “I traded my one life for another / when I drove on the broadly spread streets of Omaha / I drove away from you / and the damage we made / each of us slowly making our money.” Was there ever a poem more American than this? I don’t think so. As I whisper it, I mourn those I too have driven away from, I too have damaged and been damaged by. This is a poem that, in its precision, in its gorgeously composed measures, movements, and wide caesuras, engenders what we sorely need: com-passion, the feeling-with that is poetry’s most valuable gift. —Julie Carr

Katie Naughton takes up the poem as a mode of inquiry and delves deep in sound and vision. This is time’s song, the longue durée of linked moments and the haptic navigation of intimate spaces—even when something really is wrong (“the failed economies of ecology and oil”), even when we take up what we don’t know, and sing it, still. Naughton weaves a Rilkean tree in the ear, exhales soft arias of dailiness and probes the dim auras of ordinary objects, parsing the real ethereal at once seen through and opaque, meshes of afternoons in which we gladly become entangled. —Stephen Collis

Near the end of her stunning debut, Katie Naughton asks a simple question, not so simple at all: “and what is mine?” The question tunes the ear to the undergirding ethic these poems explore, a frequency that cancels the static of capital’s all-too-easy “time is money” to reveal the deeper economy, one that knows the real, letter by letter, is embedded within the ethereal, with an E as the only excess, calling out so quietly the heart’s inner urgent more. More what? More days, more time, more of the honest inheritance that makes a life—for any of us—mine. Naughton is a spare poet of life’s wild abundance, practicing poetry’s oldest motions, the garland and the crown, weaving together inner life with worldly experience, stitching day to day, asking what the hours are in hopes of honoring what the days bring. It is the worthiest kind of work I know, to play us the tune of “time our oldest song the wind wilt blow.” – Dan Beachy-Quick

The Real Ethereal is 90 pages. Forthcoming August 1, 2024.


Katie Naughton is a poet living in Brooklyn, NY. She is the author of the chapbooks Study (above/ground press, 2021), A Second Singing (Dancing Girl Press, 2023), and Debt Ritual (forthcoming from Bunny/Fonograf Editions, 2025). Her poetry has been published or is forthcoming in Fence, Bennington Review, Michigan Quarterly Review, Tupelo Quarterly, and elsewhere. She holds an MFA in creative writing from Colorado State University and is a doctoral candidate in the Poetics program at State University of New York at Buffalo. She is an editor at Essay Press, the HOW(ever) and How2 Digital Archive Project, and Etcetera, an online journal of poetry and poetics.


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Preorder at Asterism

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Upcoming Readings in 2024:

Thursday, April 18 at the PO Box Poetry Series.

Sunday, April 21 at the New Orleans Poetry Festival.

Friday, January 26 at Kearny Street Workshop.

Saturday, January 27 at San Francisco Public Library.

Saturday, January 27 Book Party at Medicine for Nightmares Bookstore.

Sunday, February 4 at Hudson Valley Writers Center.

Rob Mclennan reviews all one in the end—/water on his blog.

Soham will be reading from all one in the end—/water at Blacksburg Books Monday, October 16, 2023 at 7pm.

Soham will be reading from all one in the end—/water at Charis Books in Decatur, GA, Thursday, December 14, 2023 at 7:30pm.