On the best of news

On August 20, I received a phone call from The University of Utah Press with the most amazing news. My manuscript Catechesis: a postpastoral was chosen for the 2018 Agha Shahid Ali Poetry Prize by Kimiko Hahn. My debut poetry collection will be published by U of U Press in June 2019. 

This past month has been the most wonderfully surreal one of my life. I've been working on my U of U Press author questionnaire with things like cover art ideas, names of writers to ask for blurbs, and drafting some promotional copy for the book. The latter was quite a challengethinking about my own work from the outside, as a reader and a marketer. But it ended up being a pretty fun exercise. I feel like I have a better understanding of my own work now; and I'm better able to explain what my work is "about":

If Clarice Starling and Ellen Ripley could warn the girls and women to follow, what would they tell us? “A girl has two choices: / to be a tree or / to be the forest.” Catechesis combines Grimm fairy tale with understated horror movie and the Book of Revelation to construct a vision of the lush green dangers and apocalyptic transformations inherent in girlhood. This lyric lore, which includes curious diagrams and collages of the botanical and the anatomical, contains hidden instruction to prepare girls for the hazards ahead.

In retelling them alongside other Grimm-style stories, the poet turns horror classics The Silence of the Lambs and Alien into macabre fairy tales in their own right. There is violence and decay here, but also a wild, overgrown beauty. Mothers and fathers are as much a part of this treacherous landscape as the carnivorous flora and shape-shifting fauna; and their effects are just as devastating. Framing all of this within biblical language and motifs gives these fabulist poems an ominous sense of urgency.

Catechesis is a hybrid collection of textual and visual poems that examine belief and obsession. They explore the ways beauty leads to danger and how danger births another kind of beauty, in a cycle of creation and destruction. This book holds its mythology close; but it holds its truth even closer. 

I am incredibly grateful to Kimiko, to The University of Utah Press, and to all of my friends and mentors who helped me get here, especially Jehanne Dubrow, James Allen Hall, and Emma Sovich. 


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