Alexis Sears’s debut collection posits grief as a form of its own. A fitting winner for the 2021 Donald Justice Prize, the collection is rife with formal poems and tightly controlled rhyme. There’s not one, but two sonnet crowns, a sestina, a villanelle and a ghazal. Juxtaposed with formal virtuosity is a uniquely casual speaker, who in one poem concedes, ‘[m]aybe, one day,/ when I am also older, friends have died,/I’ll stop giving a fuck,’ (Hoop Earrings, Bare Legs). Delivered with unwavering candor, the grief at the heart of this collection is a gift of trust: we’ve followed our heroine through poems of depression, microaggressions of biracial identity, and yearning. Thus, when the time comes, she’s left us prepared for the unadorned honesty of her loss. Despite the speaker’s early promise to hold off discussing her sadness, this is exactly why we’ve been invited to this book.
We deeply appreciate this reviewer’s close and generous read of Alexis’s poems, and we hope you’ll check out the full review on MudRoom’s website, here.