Just Out/Forthcoming

Forthcoming September 2017, The Broken Country is a book-length essay on cultural trauma and the inter-generational legacies of war. In 2012, a young Vietnamese man named Kiet Thanh Ly walked into a downtown Salt Lake City megastore, purchased a knife, and began stabbing white male passersby in the parking lot, purportedly in revenge for the war in Vietnam: a war that, due to Ly's age, he never immediately experienced.

 

The Broken Country explores how Ly's case, and the case of other recent immigrant and refugee perpetrators of violent crimes, may be at the heart of a larger discussion of war's trauma, historical memory, cultural assimilation, and identity: issues that refugees and veterans alike must face when repatriating after war. Through investigative reporting, cultural criticism, oral history and personal reflection, The Broken Country considers the sheer number of people psychologically wounded by violence.

 

In Ly's tragic story, we might find the fascinating, if controversial, beginnings of a new kind of war memorial: one that draws together the testimony and trauma of war's less visible victims.

 

 Winner of the 2016 AWP Creative Nonfiction Award.  Available for 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. Read a review here. 

Read a review from The Los Angeles Times here, from The Kenyon Review here, and from American Poet here.

 

Order Imaginary Vessels here or here

 

 

Poetry

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 

 

Read reviews of Animal Eye on Publisher's WeeklySlate, The Rumpus, and The Kenyon Review.

Purchase online here

 

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.

 

Read a review of Invention of the Kaleidoscope on Publisher's Weekly

 

Purchase online here

 

"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. 

Nonfiction

 

Intimate: An American Family Photo Album is a hybrid memoir and "photo album" that blends personal essay, historical documentary, and poetry to examine the tense relationship between self, society, and familial legacy in contemporary America. Typographically innovative, Intimate creates parallel streams, narrating the stories of Rekdal's Norwegian-American father and his mixed-race marriage, the photographer Edward S. Curtis, and Curtis's murdered Apsaroke guide, Alexander Upshaw. The result is panoramic, a completely original literary encounter with intimacy, identity, family relations, and race.

 

Read a review on NewPages here.

 

Read a review and interview on Run to the Roundhouse Nellie here

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Purchase online here

 

When you come from a mixed race background as Paisley Rekdal does — her mother is Chinese American and her father is Norwegian– thorny issues of identity politics, and interracial desire are never far from the surface. Here in this hypnotic blend of personal essay and travelogue, Rekdal journeys throughout Asia to explore her place in a world where one’s “appearance is the deciding factor of one’s ethnicity.”

In her soul-searching voyage, she teaches English in South Korea where her native colleagues call her a “hermaphrodite,” and is dismissed by her host family in Japan as an American despite her assertion of being half-Chinese. A visit to Taipei with her mother, who doesn’t know the dialect, leads to the bitter realization that they are only tourists, which makes her further question her identity. Written with remarkable insight and clarity, Rekdal a poet whose fierce lyricism is apparent on every page, demonstrates that the shifting frames of identity can be as tricky as they are exhilarating.

 

Winner of a Village Voice Writers on the Verge Award

ALA Young Adult Books Notable Selection

 

Read a review from The New York Times Book Review here.

 

Purchase online here