Nightingale is a book about change. This collection radically rewrites and contemporizes many of the myths central to Ovid's epic, The Metamorphoses, the characters changed not by divine intervention but by both ordinary and extraordinary human events. In Nightingale, a mother undergoes cancer treatments at the same time her daughter transitions into a son; a woman comes to painful terms with her new sexual life after becoming quadriplegic; a photographer wonders whether her art is to blame for her son's sudden illness; and a widow falls in love with her dead husband's dog. At the same time, the book includes more intimate lyrics that explore personal transformation, culminating in a series of connected poems that trace the continuing effects of sexual violence and rape on survivors. Nightingale updates many of Ovid's subjects while remaining true to the Roman epic's tropes of violence, dismemberment, silence, and fragmentation. Is change a physical or spiritual act? Is transformation punishment or reward, reversible or permanent? Does metamorphosis literalize our essential traits, or change us into something utterly new? Nightingale investigates these themes, while considering the roles that pain, violence, art and voicelessness all play in the changeable selves we present to the world.
Nightingale is out May 2019. Pre-order here.
Imaginary Vessels contains monologues from past American celebrities such as the 19th Century ex-Mojave “captive” Olive Oatman, bawdy vaudevillian Mae West, the skulls of anonymous mental health patients unearthed in Colorado, and the iconic comedian W.C. Fields. Through formally inventive lyrics and sonnet sequences, Rekdal's bold new collection investigates how public identities and monuments become sites for our emotional re-enactments of history.
A Publishers' Weekly "Most Anticipated Book" of Fall 2016
Finalist for the Washington State Book Award
Finalist for the 2018 Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award
Winner of the Utah 15 Bytes Book Award for Poetry
Lannan Literary Selection
Voted one of the five best poetry collections for 2012 by Publishers Weekly, Animal Eye employs pastoral motifs to engage a discourse on life and love. As Coal Hill Review states, "It is as if a scientist is at work in the basement of the museum of natural history, building a diorama of an entire ecosystem via words. She seems not only interested in using the natural world as a metaphoric lens in her poems but is set on building them item by item into natural worlds themselves."
Publisher's Weekly, "Best Poetry Books of 2012" selection
Finalist for the 2013 Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award
Finalist for the 2013 Balcones Poetry Prize
Winner of the 2013 UNT Rilke Prize for Poetry
Winner of the 15 Bytes Award for Poetry
The Invention of the Kaleidoscope is a book of poetic elegies that discuss failures: failures of love, both sexual and spiritual; failures of the body; failures of science, art and technology; failures of nature, imagination, memory and, most importantly, the failures inherent to elegiac narratives and our formal attempt to memoralize the lost. But the book also explores the necessity of such narratives, as well as the creative possibilities implicit within the “failed elegy,” all while examining the various ways that self-destruction can turn into self-preservation.
"Six Girls without Pants confronts the terror of sexuality, its economies of accident and control, vulnerability and power. Paisley Rekdal's edgy, intelligent poems muse upon our hapless wedding with the world, and in doing so, participate in the uncanny beauty of the 'strange conjunctions, uneasy / alliances' that are their subject. The intoxications of art, the heady pleasures of science, and the ecstasies of religion are part of this linguistic world that shimmers with tactile and cerebral bliss, 'part animal, part elegance.'" Alice Fulton
ForeWord Magazine Book of the Year Award (Poetry) Finalist
Asian American Literary Award, Poetry Category Finalist
Purchase online here.
In these quizzically probing and provocative poems, atoms and torture, tattoos and laundromats, mug shots, the theory of light, and such personalities as Joe Louis and Bruce Lee join in shaping a simultaneously personal and historical narrative of love, family, and desire. The tension between the public and the private saturates these poems with a breathless energy that carries the reader through Rekdal’s self-aware depiction of American culture and romance, complete with Harlequin romance novels and an account of her parents’ courtship. Though Rekdal delights in turning traditional images of love upside down, what she finally offers is a grateful and graceful view of humanity, which convinces us that, as she says in “Convocation”: “Nothing is a single moment . . . / No private event lacks history.”
Winner of the University of Georgia Press' Contemporary Poetry Series Award
Winner of a Greenwall Award
Purchase online here.