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Kiki Petrosino - book author

Kiki Petrosino was born in Baltimore and received her BA from the University of Virginia. She spent two years in Switzerland teaching English and Italian at a private school, after which she earned graduate degrees from both the University of Chicago and the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. Her poem, “You Have Made a Career of Not Listening,” was featured in the anthology Best New Poets 2006 (Samovar Press), and other poems have appeared in FENCE, The Iowa Review, Forklift, Ohio, and elsewhere. She lives in Iowa City.

Kiki Petrosino is the author of books: Witch Wife, Fort Red Border, Hymn for the Black Terrific: Poems, White Blood: A Lyric of Virginia, Black Genealogy: Poems, My Tall Handsome, Life on Dodge: Poems (The Mineral Point Poetry Series Book 9), Gamut Magazine: Issue Seven, Gamut Magazine: Issue Six, Gamut Magazine: Issue Two

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The poems of Witch Wife are spells, obsessive incantations to exorcise or celebrate memory, to mourn the beloved dead, to conjure children or keep them at bay, to faithfully inhabit one's given body. In sestinas, villanelles, hallucinogenic prose poems and free verse, Kiki Petrosino summons history's ghosts--the ancestors that reside in her blood and craft--and sings them to life.

Fort Red Border—the title itself an anagram for the name of this remarkable collection’s imaginary beloved—shows how language can be pleated, unfolded, and creased all over again into an endless origami of Eros. . . . By turns clowning, worshipful, heartbroken, and Faulknerian, these lyrics transport the reader to a familiar place made utterly strange.”—Srikanth Reddy

Kiki Petrosino earned graduate degrees from both the University of Chicago and the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. Her poem, “You Have Made a Career of Not Listening,” was featured in the anthology Best New Poets 2006. She lives in Iowa City.

The poems in this, Kiki Petrosino's second collection, fulfill the promise of her debut effort, Fort Red Border, and further extend the terms of our expectations for this extraordinary young poet. The book is in two sections, the first a focused collection of wildly inventive lyrics that take as launch pad such far flung subjects as allergenesis, the contents and significance of swamps, a revised notion of marriage, and ancestors—both actual and dreamed. The eponymous second section is a cogent series, or long poem, based on a persona named "the eater," who, along with the poems themselves, storms voraciously through tablefuls of Chinese delicacies (each poem in the series takes its titles from an actual Chinese dish), as well as through doubts and confident proclamations from regions of an exploratory self. Hymn for the Black Terrific has Falstaffian panache; it is a book of pure astonishment.

Kiki Petrosino is the author of Fort Red Border (Sarabande, 2009) and the co-editor of Transom, an independent on-line poetry journal. She holds graduate degrees from the University of Chicago and the Iowa Writer's Workshop. Her poems have appeared in Tin House, FENCE, Jubilat, Gulf Coast, and The New York Times. Petrosino teaches creative writing at the University of Louisville.
In her fourth full-length book, White Blood: A Lyric of Virginia, Kiki Petrosino turns her gaze to Virginia, where she digs into her genealogical and intellectual roots, while contemplating the knotty legacies of slavery and discrimination in the Upper South. From a stunning double crown sonnet, to erasure poetry contained within DNA testing results, the poems in this collection are as wide-ranging in form as they are bountiful in wordplay and truth. In her poem 'The Shop at Monticello,' she writes: 'I’m a black body in this Commonwealth, which turned black bodies/ into money. Now, I have money to spend on little trinkets to remind me/ of this fact. I’m a money machine & my body constitutes the common wealth.' Speaking to history, loss, and injustice with wisdom, innovation, and a scientific determination to find the poetic truth, White Blood plants Petrosino’s name ever more firmly in the contemporary canon.
At a literal crossroads in the South, there are two speakers in these poems — the descendant, who has traveled here to try to find her ancestors in the archives, records, and receipts of their violent and near-unrecorded history, and the ancestors, who are alternately bemused, angry, and tender with their descendant. Petrosino’s poems argue with each other across time and seek to hear each other over the guardians and soldiers of the past who want to keep black genealogy from the descendants who would sing its truth. Interchapters illustrated by artist Lauren Haldeman reimagine the barriers of genealogical research as an enigmatic Confederate soldier with the disquieting habits and obstructive magicks of Alice in Wonderland’s Cheshire Cat.

Timely, groundbreaking, and powerful, Kiki Petrosino’s Black Genealogy has the weight of an instant classic.
When the cutie-pie was opened, the birds began to sing, and what they sang was glittery and savage and fearless and dangerous—be careful with this book.

—Catherine Wagner, author of Nervous Device

The fanged fairy of Emily Corwin's forest-mud-stained collection asserts and sings with short rhymes and glitter-spells, and just as you've followed her into the deepest and darkest part of the woods, terrified, you're asked to run away together / and promise to never / do this heart-skipping thing / with anyone else.

Don't be surprised when you find yourself answering yes, yes, yes.

Confronting and darling, every word a perfect warm circlet of pink blood, My Tall Handsome raids every crystal jar on the lace-topped vanity for truth, poison, and song until you can't remember why you ever thought pretty was better than powerful, sugar was better than bitter medicine, or dancing needed more music than your own voice.

I sip the goblet down, tip it upside down / wear it as / a hat / I am a new shiny thing / and I steal you away from the hoopla hullabaloo rumpus

You won't resist this kidnapping into the orchard, into the crabapple abracadabra—it is too crystalline a taking, and there are too many delicious chants to chant along the way.
I realize that being a woman is a lot / like being a planet—I can’t decide / what my gravity attracts. I am as helpless / as I am powerful.

Poet Rita Feinstein builds a planet from twenty-five sonnets of lost love, and the astrophysics is undeniable. What has more gravitational pull than loss? What is a more alien landscape than the rearrangement of a heart?

A strong narrative arc built from verse, Feinstein’s debut collection crosses Shakespeare with science fiction to launch readers into a world apart where a newly broken heart is celebrated, examined, nurtured, and let to rage, as if only the atmosphere of an entirely new planet is able to bear the process of healing. This emotionally generous collection looks at pain and love—fourteen crystalline and confessional lines at a time. Dodge, as the speaker names her planet, “is not Virginia.” It is “red because a horse heart / is red . . . Red because / that’s what I was wearing when I left,” and as the speaker fills Planet Dodge with men (because “there’s no reason for Dodge / to be this empty”), she finds “how easy it is to hate them all / after six years of loving you too much.”

Life on Dodge is a powerful cycle of confessional verse, a contemporary radio signal to Plath and Sexton, utterly unafraid of the heat and danger of reentry after the fully interstellar escape that comes after heartbreak. “Next month the pain will be less, / and the next month it will simply disappear. / For example: today you are coming to Dodge. / You are coming to take me home.”
Heap of Thornbush Burning Hillside by Robert Campbell
The Moments Between by Kate Jonez
No Vacancies: On the Other Side by Max Booth III
19 Snapshots of Dennisport by Paul Tremblay
Mulattress [1] by Kiki Petrosino
Rogues Bay 3013 by J. S. Breukelaar
Mother of Dragons of Chihuahuas: Harry Potter by Diddle Knabb
Faberge by Stephen Graham Jones
Abigail Williams at the Keg Party by Sarah Satterlee
The Starling of Her Name by Natalia Theodoridou
Raw Bites: How to Disappear Completely by Keith Rawson
A Porcelain Soul by Angela Slatter
Shiksa by Danielle Sellers
What We Talk about When We Talk about He Who Stalks Beneath the Streets by Lincoln Michel
Missed Connection by Samantha Irby
Taking Off the Front of the House by Ellen Bass
On Light and Shadow by L. L. Madrid
Queen Excluder by David James Keaton
The Lazarus Complex by Stephen Graham Jones
You Try and Hope You're Wrong by Blas Falconer
They Are Passing By Without Turning by Helen Marshall
No Vacancies: Hotel, a Sitcom by Max Booth III
The Street Is a Museum by Cynthia Atkins
The Stitcher’s Garden by Adrean Messmer
Mother of Dragons of Chihuahuas: Online Dating by Diddle Knabb
A Sister Is a Thought Curving Back on Herself by Kiki Petrosino
The Last Family Pillar by Timothy Johnson
Raw Bites: Futures by Keith Rawson
Golden Avery by Sarah Read
Nocturne by Kiki Petrosino
The Stammering Man by Mel Kassel
How to Say the Right Thing When There’s No Right Thing to Say by Megan Stielstra
Instituto by Roy Kesey
Table of Contents

Angel Combs by Steve Rasnic Tem
A24 Films by Kealan Patrick Burke
Two Poems by Carrie Jerrell
Figure 8 by E. Catherine Tobler
No Vacancies: Love at the Bottom of a Swimming Pool by Max Booth III
Cat Calls by Rebecca Jones-Howe
Three Poems by Kiki Petrosino
Love is a Cavity I Can’t Stop Touching by Stephen Graham Jones
Mother of Dragons of Chihuahuas: Beginning of a Marriage by Diddle Knabb
The Spider Box by Stephen Graham Jones
On the Night Gays Across America Celebrate the Marriage Equality Ruling, You and I Divide Our Possessions by Charles Jensen
Lily at Twilight by Kate O’Connor
Raw Bites: A Brief History of Bad Pizza by Keith Rawson
A Love Not Meant To Outlast the Butterflies by Mercedes M. Yardley
Two Poems by Blas Falconer
Forestborn by Sylvia Heike
I’m Ruining My Own Life by Gwen Werner
Stripped: A Memoir by Jacklyn Dre Marceau