To read this book is to experience almost unalloyed pleasure. A volume of poetry that consists of a series of monologues by record-breaking woman aviators (the first woman balloonist, the first to solo a powered aircraft, the first to solo a glider, and so on…) might seem to run the risk of monotony, but nothing could be further from the truth. In poetic forms as varied, and often as witty, as their subjects, Pat Valdata celebrates her airborne heroines with gusto, delight, and an exuberant sense of the sheer fun of the enterprise. There are serious poems here (the poem on Beryl Markham, for example, is a particularly affecting probing of the problems of self-knowledge and the nature of courage), but the overall tone is one of risks insouciantly taken and triumphantly overcome. Valdata’s heroines are eccentric, caustic, ambitious, indifferent to fuss but avid for glory, willful and proud of it; and her book reads as though cut from the same engagingly unconventional cloth. It’s a triumph, at once whimsical and earnest in its celebration of pioneering women in flight.

—Dick Davis, Judge


Pat Valdata has an MFA in writing from Goddard College. Her publications include the poetry book Inherent Vice and the poetry chapbook Looking for Bivalve, both published by Pecan Grove Press. She has also written two novels, Crosswind and The Other Sister, which won a gold medal from the Hungarian Association’s Arpad Academy in 2008. Pat has twice received Individual Artist Awards from the Maryland State Arts Council for her poetry. In 2013 she was awarded a grant from the Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation for a residency at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. Thanks to this grant and residency, she completed the manuscript for this book. A native of New Jersey, Pat now lives in Elkton, Maryland. She teaches English and writing for the University of Maryland University College (UMUC). She is a glider pilot and founding member of the Women Soaring Pilots Association.