PRAISE FOR BED OF IMPATIENS:
Has American poetry ever produced a fresher, savvier, grittier, more elegant, and drop-dead formally exhilarating sequence than Katie Hartsock’s “Hotels, Motels, and Extended Stays”? If so, I’ve yet to see it. Hartsock is as deft (and loving) with the vulgarities of truck stop rent-by-the-hour as with the secret wit of rhyme, or the venerables of Homeric epic: her range and her inventiveness appear to know no limit. And this is just a fraction of what bursts to life in Bed of Impatiens. I’m dazzled by the sheer bounty of it.
Like René Magritte I want to paint “This is not a first book” under this first book. It is Lolita all grown up and taking us on a cross-country tour of the motels she stayed in with Humbert. It’s St. Augustine as Dennis Rodman, elbowing us out of position underneath God’s basket. But it’s not a cacophony of surrealism. Ms. Hartsock’s classical training-her knowledge and powerful rhythms-is the ground, the spine of this book (pun intended); but the excitement is watching the ancient and the contemporary meet in an explosion of true Form.
Katie Hartsock’s Bed of Impatiens characteristic vantage includes landscapes derelict and macabre, like the flooded grave in the first poem, and the endless highways of the US, with their extended-stay motels and the ghosts that inhabit them. Hartsock is a sharp and clever reader of the books of nature and of art, yet writes in nobody’s shadow.
What truth to find in a world whose rivers “we cannot swim in and no/ cannot drink the water/ cannot imagine that,” a land of “seedless sweetness” and dank motels that are its monuments to transience? Katie Hartsock’s answer in her ambitious first collection, Bed of Impatiens, is to wander and “let the weather in,” to keep recalibrating her position in an ever-shifting poetic landscape.
Katie Hartsock is attracted to “beauty in otherwise unlovely place.” An often amused and goodhearted spirit sets the tone of some of Hartsock’s poems, but the long historical and literary view of this poet also encompasses the tragic. Open to encounter, memory, feeling, avid for them, eloquent about them, these poems.
-Reginald Gibbons (from the foreword)
Katie Hartsock was born in Youngstown, Ohio, and has lived in Cincinnati, Ann Arbor, and Chicago. She holds an MFA from the University of Michigan and a PhD in Comparative Literary Studies from Northwestern University. Recipient of the 2015 Page Davidson Clayton Prize for Emerging Poets, she is the author of two poetry chapbooks, Hotels, Motels, and Extended Stays and Veritas Caput. Her poems have appeared in Beloit Poetry Journal, Massachusetts Review, Southwest Review, RHINO, Measure, Michigan Quarterly Review, and Midwestern Gothic, among other journals, and in the anthology Down to the Dark River: Poems about the Mississippi River (Louisiana Literature Press, 2015). She is an assistant professor of English at Oakland University (MI).
PRAISE FOR THE BORROWED WORLD:
In The Borrowed World, Emily Leithauser’s formal mastery—her consummate knack for writing lines and sentences as crisp and elegant as the Edo prints to which she pays homage—entwines with the sheer immediacy and vulnerability of the poet’s voice. Leithauser portrays the inevitability of loss, in romantic and familial relationships, and yet, without ever offering false resolutions or pat conclusions, she manages to make her poems themselves convincing stays against loss. I mean that this book is made to endure. The Borrowed World marks the arrival of a major talent.
—Peter Campion, 2015 Able Muse Book Award judge, author of El Dorado
Emily Leithauser’s first collection, The Borrowed World, is an elegant meditation on inheritance, the vagaries of love and loss, familial relations—with all the devastating implosions within—and our relationship to the past filtered through the flawed lens of memory. These are deeply felt poems and Leithauser has a finely-tuned ear for the lyricism of syntax and the enduring rhythms of traditional forms. The Borrowed World is her stunning debut.
—Natasha Trethewey, 2012–2014 US Poet Laureate, author of Thrall
If her intensely accurate perceptions of the physical world and the beautiful forms in which she sets those perceptions were all that Emily Leithauser gave us in these poems, they would be more than enough to satisfy the hungriest poetry reader. But step by perspicuous step, in poem after poem, she enlarges and encompasses, she broadens and deepens and transmutes perception into feeling, feeling into thought, and thought into revelation.
—Vijay Seshadri, winner of the Pulitzer Prize, author of 3 Sections
Love poems, family poems, narrative poems: The Borrowed World is a moving and memorable debut which covers a lot of ground but is always rooted in actualities. The poems are very well-made, too, but their equally great distinction is to be well-felt—subtle in their account of the observing “I,” and simultaneously generous and shrewd in their understanding of others. Page by page, they create a series of powerful cameos; taken as a whole, their larger purpose emerges: to register what can be known and (especially) not known about our lives as individuals, and to value what time allows us to enjoy on earth, while admitting the brevity of our stay here.
—Andrew Motion, 1999–2009 UK Poet Laureate, author of The Customs House
I have read The Borrowed World several times, and each time I find more in it to be delighted and touched by. Emily Leithauser’s art waits for you, and I am sure that you will be as pleased and moved by it as I have been.
—Michael Palma (from the foreword), author of Begin in Gladness