“Heartache begets mysticism and mythmaking in this spellbinding collection of narrative verse from Brimhall (Our Lady of the Ruins) about miracles, curses, and the stories people tell to come to terms with their experiences. Brimhall’s amalgamation of poetry and theater tells a family’s mysterious past through a motley and impassioned cast of narrators—including a chorus of wandering girls all named Maria—possessed of contradictory feelings and stories about God, each other, and the truth of their history.”–Publishers Weekly, starred review
“Gorgeous and searing, Brimhall’s poems are rooted in the marriage of myth, mysticism, and mystery. Collected with the breadth and power of a novel, but delivered in discrete scenes and dreams, Saudade is one of the best books I’ve read this year.” –Nick Ripatrazone in The Millions
A companion narrative to Saudade, this illustrated book for young readers explores the childhood of one of the personas from Brimhall’s poetry collection.
Sophia lives in the Amazon and loves to climb trees, but she is ver lonely. The Boy Who Fell is a ghost who has waited many years for a friend, too, and an accident helps them find each other. Through their friendship, they help teach each other the ways they see the world, its facts and wonders. From the names of clouds and stones, to the animals in the rainforest, Sophia and The Boy learn and grow by understanding their differences. Though conflicts arise, they are able to resolve them and overcome their fears. This story of a girl and a ghost teaches its readers that friendships that help us change and grow last forever.
“Poetry for the new century: awake to the world, spiritually profound, and radiant with lyric intelligence.” —Carolyn Forché
“For a world that has to transform itself to endure, for a world that transforms itself constantly to no purpose, Traci Brimhall has written an elegy and a cradle song. Her poems are viscerally contemporary. But they have the authority of the foundational texts, spoken before there was a divide between myth and action. Haunted by cruelty and strangely reverential, these poems bring to mind Martin Buber’s encounters with a “self-evident mystery” at a desolate point in history: “We make the forbidden visible/when we fill thimbles on the windowsill/with holy water.” Our Lady of the Ruins is visionary writing. Brimhall is an important new poet.” —D. Nurkse
“This is a book of devotions: to grief, survival, the ecstasy of hope, and the simultaneous loss and persistence of belief. As in Rookery, her first collection, Traci Brimhall’s new work is brutal and blisteringly beautiful. These are poems through which walk saints and assassins, prophets and pilgrims, and woman after woman whose only choice in the face of unrelenting damage is to trust that ‘[e]verything will come true—/the flood, the famine, the miracle.’ Our Lady of the Ruins is dangerously alive.” —Tracy K. Smith
“Traci Brimhall’s Our Lady of the Ruins invites us into a richly-textured landscape and the seekers and pilgrims who restlessly, relentlessly explore its darker reaches in search of meanings. It’s as if a Tarot deck came alive and its characters told their stories in stark, imaginative narratives that made their world more real and urgent than the one we inhabit. This is visionary poetry sustained at the highest level—a book full of lucid dreams alive with menace and quest.” —Gregory Orr
“Protean, commanding, visionary, Our Lady of the Ruins unfolds with a propulsive, prophetic intensity that rivets the reader from the first lines, where the poet invites us to envision a burning piano as an emblem of a epoch when ‘half the world ends and the other half continues.’ With a sweeping, investigative intelligence and intrepid imagination, the poet limns this gutted universe (the poems resemble tense fever-bulletins from an apocalypse) by enriching the poems with luminous and unnerving details (‘a deer licking salt from a lynched man’s palm’). The poet’s piercing, imperative sense of this powerfully rendered dystopia is never merely abject or despairing, for Our Lady of the Ruins offers something more profound and mysterious than a hot jeremiad or a pressing gospel; it allows us to savor the beauty, ambiguity, and contradiction that keen-eyed poetry can yield. Carolyn Forché chose this fearlessly sibylline, panoramic work, in which violence and calm, cruelty and tenderness are alloyed, for the Barnard Women’s Prize, and rightly so: it a salient, worthy, and astonishing second book.” —Cyrus Cassells
“With a stunning mastery of metaphor, linguistic precision, and a soulful determined vision, Brimhall’s work reveals an artist tuned to the significance of everyday experience, from the panicking heartbeats of birds to the spiking pulse of mice.” —Dorianne Laux
“This emotionally articulate, intense debut gives us the myth of self in its various incarnations: elegiac, surreal, meditative, erotic, dreamlike. I love [Brimhall’s] luscious verbal texturing and lyric slipperiness, an assertive voice, a sensuality, a glow. A beautiful book.” —Ilya Kaminsky
“The poems in Traci Brimhall’s Rookery make beautiful the brutal as she casts an uncompromising eye on the vagaries of faith, the disappointments of the human heart—and the uneasy interstices between animal consciousness and ours. . . . Part incantation, part lamentation, the language in these poems is sensual and urgent.” —Claudia Emerson
“In Traci Brimhall and Brynn Saito’s Bright Power, Dark Peace, readers are guided through the ruins of a city, and perhaps a society. The old grandeur of its bones is evoked in bright lariats of image. It is a city where hyacinths unfold themselves from the corpses of the old world into a blinding and beautiful white. Where the old windows are filled with ‘bolts of chenille and empty bobbins’ and where you can still hear the voices singing from the empty theater. In this exquisite collaboration, from the ruins are the possibilities. From the unsalvageable, what will save. The magic of Saito and Brimhall’s lyricism returns what was thought to be lost into what is, for certain, miraculous.” —Oliver de la Paz
Image credit: Janelle Fernandez. All rights reserved.