About the Book
Alexis Sears’s debut collection, Out of Order, is a collage of unapologetic intimacy, risk-taking vulnerability, and unwavering candor. A biracial millennial woman, Sears navigates the challenges of growing out of girlhood and into womanhood with its potential dangers, interrogating the male gaze, beauty standards, and confidence and identity. Pop culture references run through the collection, with rock icons David Bowie and Prince and poets like Kenneth Koch offering windows into desire and adaptation. In these poems, Sears works through heavy topics, such as loneliness, mental illness, chronic pain, the legacies of race and racism, and the aftermath of a father’s suicide. This young poet demonstrates an uncommon mastery of craft, writing in forms including the sonnet redoublé, sestina, canzone, and villanelle. With all her linguistic skills, Sears’s work remains approachable, offering readers a striking blend of honesty, humor, anguish, joy, and surprise.
Praise for Out of Order
Out of Order by Alexis Sears is an irreverent interrogation of loss that insists on the poet’s right to explore grief on her own terms.
—Harriet Books, Poetry Foundation
Sears’ ability to fuse absolute candor about her own vulnerabilities with formal virtuosity—even humor—is remarkable. That humor—bleak, ironic, sometimes hopeful—lends her work an electric charge, the touch of exhilaration that is art’s recompense for pain.
Alexis Sears dazzles while writing and reckoning with form. The sonnet crown, villanelle, sestina, and epic are honed by obsessions woven with levity amidst the madness of trauma and loss. I applaud the startling specificity, emotional truths, and stunning similes spilling throughout this collection. Out of Order packs a potent poetic punch with glosses to W.H. Auden, Kurt Cobain, and crying in Priuses. Here’s to a poet that takes risks on the page with lyric grit and brilliance.
—Tiana Clark, author of I Can’t Talk About the Trees Without the Blood
If you have never read Alexis Sears, prepare yourself. Her poems draw blood. It’s hard to think of a debut collection since Heart’s Needle that is at once so deeply felt and so finely tuned. In her hands, form is the fist that delivers the blow, conveying the pure force of language. With so much at stake—identity, melancholia, a father’s suicide in a distant place—feeling could easily overwhelm and blur, but Sears’s poems remain precise and richly textured. Her poems do not succumb; they triumph, as we do, thrillingly, through them.
—David Yezzi, author of Black Sea