ERIN LITTLE, PERSONAL INJURY
2023 POETRY CHAPBOOK WINNER
“I am thinking about longing, the oldest poetic concept, and the ways in which Erin Little brings longing to an unmatched understanding, one that is crucial, painful, and innermost in her debut chapbook, Personal Injury. Little is a writer I would follow anywhere. Her interrogations of longing take us through multiple and immediate dimensions: longing through the body as a cancer patient in a hospital; longing through her parents praying for a complete cure; longing as a youth in pain needing to be heard; and longing as an adult feeling love in rain and the rain in love. She implores the reader to be thoughtful with their words—this move hits the highest poetic marks. Little questions the definition of love, and she makes me stop—I turn the corner and this meditation will forever unwind in me.”
—Dorothy Chan, author of Babe and Return of the Chinese Femme
“Understanding since childhood that death can come from within, the speaker of these poems is acutely conscious of the various and particular ways her body remains present in the world, as a lover, daughter, observer, friend. Erin Little sets these experiences down with assuredness, even when they hurt. These poems record something akin to what Rilke once described as ‘the chill, uncertain sunlight of those long / childhood hours when you were so afraid,’ but they also make room for a ‘face lit like a bulb / ecstatic as a baby who’s found some / thing that moves her.’ There’s cracks of light in the gloom, there’s blood within a life. Personal Injury makes space for all of it, in gorgeous language and wonderfully sharp images. It’s a joy to read this work.”
—Heather Christle, author of The Crying Book and Heliopause
“Erin Little’s Personal Injury plays with physical harm and emotional hurt as it plays with poetic structures—from the sonnet and the villanelle to the list and the chart. Each poem tangles with its own existence and makes its reader question what existence is for, if not for relishing our entanglements.”
—Mark Yakich, author of Spiritual Exercises and The Importance Of Peeling Potatoes In Ukraine
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In devoting such generous, yet often-piercing lyric attention to these fractured and brilliant narratives of family and body, Dacia Price’s essays become acts of “re-naming” the so-called stories of our lives. In Price’s world, love, loss, and the heritability thereof are allowed to collide with mice exiled to barren bins of dog food, the inadequacy of psychological manuals, prophetic sparrows and fugitive blueberries. The resulting resonances are unexpected, disarming, and electrically alive.
—Matthew Gavin Frank, author of Flight of the Diamond Smugglers
This is a story about choosing and not-choosing, about white capped singing sparrows and malignant tumors, about the ways we are tethered to the ones we love and to our bodies, and how we split apart. “…[I]n an act of defiance,” writes Dacia Price in This is for the Naming, “I choose neither.” Price spins a gorgeously lyrical web from science, family, and loss, in defiance of the laws of nature, longing for a different ending than the one we all know is inevitable, and driven by that singular human desire: to be seen, to be loved. This is a voice that will buoy you in the darkness.
—Rachel May, author of An American Quilt: Unfolding a Story of Family and Slavery
A war correspondent of the imagination, Seif-Eldeine documents the Syrian conflict in a relentless present-tense and austere syntax reminiscent of Hemingway or Komunyakaa. These unforgettable voices speak to us from the kitchens, bars, and curbside jump rope games every bit as embattled as the front lines. What they never do is lecture or hector: “No blackboard, no chalk” begins “The Teacher at the Refugee Camp.” Nor do they censor the manic hilarity that combat can unleash—“the sound of a gun wasn’t it fun fun fun.” Eyes open to the “malevolent stars” presiding over Syria since 2011, Seif-Eldeine has written a war-torn, necessary book.
ESPERANZA CINTRÓN, BOULDERS
2022 POETRY CHAPBOOK FINALIST
Crab grass and dandelions. Verdant rainforests in shattered shops. Raw music of urban life and relentless birdsong. Belle Isle, Eastern Market, Midtown, Cobo and the history of humanity, of capitalism. Absence, presence. The red-eyed nocturnal animal that will not flee your car. Grind and bump of steel, rust, wrecking balls, and yet the turquoise river, its day diamonds. Ah, such song, sensuality, breathless lists and litanies. From the chilling reality of the first poem to the crushing quote from Keynes at the end, this is a body-and-soul rocking, rapping, jiving celebration of the spirit of Detroit. Though there is grief for a lost era, and the natural world has predators whose “absolute power hungers for you,” Nature in its stark beauty triumphs everywhere. Cintrón’s electric poems will send currents through you. This collection contains a powerful energy, and like Nature itself, becomes vibrant and alive in the hands of this masterful poet.
—Zilka Joseph, author of In Our Beautiful Bones, Sparrows and Dust, Sharp Blue Search of Flame
SUE MELL, GIVING CARE
WINNER OF THE 2021 PROSE CHAPBOOK CONTEST
In Giving Care, Sue Mell delivers short, sharp and powerfully rendered essays on caregiving a parent in decline. Mell navigates the shifting mother-daughter boundaries along a complicated past, the relentless present with its crises and consequences, and on toward the inevitable future never far from view. Written with lyrical control, humor and truth at the core, Mell’s essays reveal a kind of grief that infiltrates further with each terrible task, while revealing each terrible task as a profound act of love.
Skin Over Milk tells the story of young Chutki and her two sisters who bear the weight of being unwanted daughters in 1990’s India. Told through Chutki’s eyes, we feel the innocence that is childhood, allowing the gratitude for a crust of bread thrown away by her brothers, or the simple joy in making prank phone calls. We meet characters, such as the father who curses their mother for giving him useless girls, the brothers who don’t seem to appreciate the luxury of education. But we also meet the loving grandfather, Dada, who will die and watch over them like a star in the sky and their beautiful, beautiful mother, Ammi, who does what she can to make all of their lives bearable. Exquisitely written with a jeweler’s eye for detail, the deftest of hands with characterization and storytelling, this is a brilliant and unforgettable read.
This new volume of poetry from National Book Award Finalist Andrew Krivak explores in supple and often terrifying lines the breathtaking landscapes of memory and the natural world for which his fiction is celebrated. From the Pennsylvania coal mines to the fields and mountainsides of New Hampshire, these poems search for order in a father’s everyday work, the changing seasons, and the myths that shape America and its people. Ghosts of the Monadnock Wolves is a poetic study in what we have lost, and what we still hold on to. A meditation in verse that deepens with each read.
The first half of Erik Wilbur’s debut chapbook illustrates a young man’s struggle to maintain his relationship with a father who’s battling addiction; the second half illustrates a young man’s struggle to process the grief of losing his father to that addiction. At points, this beautiful, imagistic meditation on acceptance reads like a survival guide for adult children of alcoholics. At points, it’s a testament to poetry’s capacity to conjure comfort and forgiveness during life’s most anxiety-and-resentment-laden moments.