Lyric Essentials: Sumita Chakraborty Reads Alice Oswald

Welcome back to Lyric Essentials! This week we’ve chatted with poet and educator Sumita Chakraborty about ecology, Alice Oswald’s work, and poetic inspirations. We hope you enjoy it, and, as always, thank you for tuning in!


Ashley Hajimirsadeghi: Why did you choose Oswald? What was your first experience reading their work? 

Sumita Chakraborty: I chose Oswald because I’ve been learning from her work for a long time, and the way she thinks about language and poetics (among other thematic obsessions like death and ecology) really resonates with me. Technically, the first time I encountered her work was when I still worked for AGNI, where I was on the editorial staff for 13 years—at the beginning of that stretch of time I was an intern, and her poem “Dunt” (which is now in her fairly recent collection Falling Awake) was initially published in the very first issue of AGNI on which I worked, back in 2006. My real sustained engagement with her work came with her excavation of the IliadMemorial, which I read when it first came out and then became even more significant to me after my sister died in 2014. I read it multiple times a day for a few months and then started digging through all of her work.

Sumita Chakraborty Reads “Memorial” by Alice Oswald

AH: How has Oswald’s work inspired your writing? 

SC: Countless ways, to be honest! One thing that’s lately been on my mind, especially post-Arrow, is that I think Oswald has a remarkable way of dissolving the imagined boundary between the “experimental” and the “lyric.” I think that boundary is one that we often internalize or are taught to internalize, whereas Oswald reminds me that they are both very much two sides of the same coin—or, probably, basically the same side of something much more complex than a coin. I also love the way she honors and follows language, as well as the way she fluidly balances and re-balances each poem’s investment in ambiguity and concreteness alike. To be honest, I could go on for ages about her work and its importance to me; I wrote about some other things I’m drawn to some years back for LARB, and I do go on for ages there! I completely trampled the initial word limit I was given and I am very appreciative that the editors there let me run with it. 

Sumita Chakraborty Reads “Must Never Sleep” by Alice Oswald

AH: There seems to be an intersection between Oswald and you: you both have a tendency to dabble in the discussion of the environment. Where did your interest in this begin? 

SC: That’s kind of you to say and to notice! Ecology studies is a huge part of my scholarly life, so I’ve been thinking about it fairly actively at least since I began my PhD in 2012. I think where I especially resonate with Oswald’s approach to it is best captured in a remark she made in, I believe, an interview with Granta. She says that the nature poets that she likes the most are Homer, Ovid, and Shakespeare, specifically “because they include the human and the non-human in the same picture”; of ecosystems, she says, “How can you categorize that?” A similar approach guides my interest in the environment. 

AH: What have you been up to lately? Got any news to share (life, writing, small achievements—anything!)? 

SC: I’ve got something environment-related, actually! My academic book—which is one of my main preoccupations at the moment, and is called Grave Dangers: Poetics and the Ethics of Death in the Anthropocene—is newly under an advance contract with the University of Minnesota Press. On the poetry side, I’m playing with some new forms of visual and multimedia poetry that I’m really enjoying, and my second collection is shaping up to be rather obsessed with questions of interiority. 


Alice Oswald is a British poet; although she is not as well-known outside of her native country, her work is widely circulated. She is the author of The Thing in the Gap-Stone Stile and six other poetry collections. Her poems delve into the topic of nature, history, and environment. She was the first woman to serve as the Professor of Poetry at Oxford University.

Read her poem “Flies” at Poetry.

Read a profile about Oswald in The New Yorker.

Find her award-winning collection Falling Awake here.

Sumita Chakraborty is the author of the poetry collection Arrow, which was published by Alice James Books in the U.S. and Carcanet Press in the U.K. in 2020 and has received coverage in the New York Times, NPR, and the Guardian. Her work in progress includes a scholarly monograph, Grave Dangers: Poetics and the Ethics of Death in the Anthropocene, under contract with the University of Minnesota Press. She lives in Ann Arbor, where she teaches in literary studies and creative writing at the University of Michigan.

Find her on Twitter @notsumatra

Learn more about Sumita on her website.

Read her poem “Dear, Beloved” at Poetry.


Ashley Hajimirsadeghi is a multimedia artist and writer. She has had work appear in Barren Magazine, Hobart, DIALOGIST, Rust + Moth, and The Shore, among others. She is the Co-Editor in Chief at both Mud Season Review and Juven Press, and reads for EX/POST Magazine. More of her work can be found at ashleyhajimirsadeghi.com

The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: No Other Rome by Heather Green


This selection, chosen by guest curator and Sundress intern Katherine DeCoste, is from No Other Rome by Heather Green, released by University of Akron Press in 2021. 

A Series of Holes Connected by String

               “When we obliterate nature and our bodies with polka dots,
               we become part of the unity of our environments.”
               —Yayoi Kusama

A net, according to Samuel Johnson:
a series of holes connected by string,

the net of Indra faceted with jewels,
glittering web infinitely reflecting itself
and everything else, history told

by the victors, the story itself
a spoil. Yet the past is not a place.
You can’t go home again, my Dad
so often said. He seemed to know

home as a time; he had been there
in mine. I’ve never yet let go of him
or you because you both were there:
your childhood, mine, epic light-drenched
vacation. The underwater world bright,

coral reefs infinite, and like everything else,
I often made it hard, but the water
reminded me I was no one. Born in the year
of the dog underneath a Sagittarius star,
I’m still a loyal wanderer, but oblivion gets in.
Once I love, it means ruin, but here I scatter

back into the present, bright fatherless regression
of offset mirrors, funny valentines, photographable
gemlike farewell lanterns cast onto the internet,
obliterated into pixels, disseminated
in liquid crystal before our bodies spoil.
I barely remember the islands,
the holes, a world now come to fire and ice.


Heather Green‘s poetry collection No Other Rome was released in March of 2021 (Akron Poetry Series). Her writing has appeared in Bennington Review, Everyday Genius, the New Yorker, and elsewhere. She is the translator of Tristan Tzara’s Noontimes Won (Octopus Books, 2018) and her translations of Tzara’s work have appeared in Asymptote and Poetry International, and are forthcoming in AGNI. Green is an Assistant Professor in the School of Art at George Mason University.

Katherine DeCoste is an MA student at the University of Victoria, on the stolen lands of the Lekwungen-speaking peoples and the WSANEC peoples. Their poems have appeared in Grain Magazine, The Antigonish Review, Contemporary Verse 2, and elsewhere, and their play “many hollow mercies” won the 2020 Alberta Playwriting Competition Novitiate Prize. When not writing, reading, or answering emails, you can find them baking vegan snacks and forcing their friends to play Dungeons and Dragons.

The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: No Other Rome by Heather Green


This selection, chosen by guest curator and Sundress intern Katherine DeCoste, is from No Other Rome by Heather Green, released by University of Akron Press in 2021. 

The Angel is an Amalgam

               For Ladrea Icaza

In winter he wore a winter beard

He was sky high in the spring
His head grew light he let down the most

Delicate line he said get in the car
& on the ride a thick red book fell

From his mouth like a lullaby
He told how you crossed that chalky line

I didn’t sleep I cried I curled
To the window on the passenger side

& just like that I remembered back
I asked him changer or destroyer?

He just narrowed his eyes and said
Forever in a wave like the pushy sound

A seashell makes then he slowed
His hand down the backs of my legs

And you know me I could not
Believe him but I was made smaller

For a time by desire I was sorry
Lad I’m sorry because all this time

I never said your name
It thundered and when the angel said

Defenestration he pushed a flat
Hand to the side & I fell down fast


Heather Green‘s poetry collection No Other Rome was released in March of 2021 (Akron Poetry Series). Her writing has appeared in Bennington Review, Everyday Genius, the New Yorker, and elsewhere. She is the translator of Tristan Tzara’s Noontimes Won (Octopus Books, 2018) and her translations of Tzara’s work have appeared in Asymptote and Poetry International, and are forthcoming in AGNI. Green is an Assistant Professor in the School of Art at George Mason University.

Katherine DeCoste is an MA student at the University of Victoria, on the stolen lands of the Lekwungen-speaking peoples and the WSANEC peoples. Their poems have appeared in Grain Magazine, The Antigonish Review, Contemporary Verse 2, and elsewhere, and their play “many hollow mercies” won the 2020 Alberta Playwriting Competition Novitiate Prize. When not writing, reading, or answering emails, you can find them baking vegan snacks and forcing their friends to play Dungeons and Dragons.

Project Bookshelf: Kathryn Davis

I’ve never had a proper bookshelf. 

Late in the July between my kindergarten and first-grade years, when my big brother loaned me his favorite book on the face of the earth—Nate the Great Goes Down In the Dumps—I didn’t need a bookshelf. My picture books were content to live (albeit overflowing) in the big wicker basket beside my bed, and anyway, I’d need to return Sam’s copy of Nate the Great when I’d finished. It wasn’t a signed copy or anything, but he’d added some drawings of his own that he might want to revisit down the road. And anyway, it was a loan—NOT a present. Okay

Soon after I’d torn through Nate (and safely returned it to my brother’s library under threat of noogies), I picked up Because of Winn Dixie, Charlotte’s Web, and The Chronicles of Narnia: The Anniversary Boxed Set. Around the same time, my dolls went hungry. They moved out of their dollhouse, which my mother had built (and wallpapered) herself for my fourth birthday. My dolls cleared out their furniture, their clothes, their pets, and skipped town. So my books moved into my pink-roofed, five-bedroom dollhouse. The smaller books fit well into the bathroom and the nursery; the larger ones were stacked in the living room, the master bedroom. The oddly-proportioned ones were cast off into the doll house’s attic, angled and leaning into the pitch of the roof. 

My first car, the car my father used to usher my mother to the hospital the day I was born, was a white Jeep Cherokee Sport. It had this knit heather-grey interior—and seat pockets on the back of both the driver’s and passenger’s seats. I’d moved on to slightly-heftier books by the time I learned to drive; Speak, The Catcher in the Rye, The Perks of Being a Wallflower, The Bluest Eye. I brought books with me everywhere. I planned ahead, loaded my Jeep’s seat pockets with books I meant to read soon, books I’d read again, and took them with me wherever I went. When I blew the engine on the Jeep—on the expressway three miles from home—the back-of-seat pockets were blown out and sagging from the years they’d spent stuffed full of my library. I cleared out the car so my uncle could sell its shell down at his salvage yard, and I pulled books out of the pockets in stacks. Empty, the pockets held the shape of the books: re-formed to hold hardcovers instead of gum wrappers and ice scrapers, as the car’s designers had intended. 

My college dorm room came equipped with a bed, a small dresser, and a desk—as a loan—NOT a present. Okay? My writing professors sent me to buy dozens of collections and anthologies and craft books and implored me to keep them forever. Still, without a proper bookshelf, and with a backpack (and, for that matter, a back) that boasted only a finite load-bearing capacity, I was left to stacking. I stacked my books on the floor: On either side of my dresser. Along the foot of my bed. As a makeshift side table to the right of my desk. Each semester, I got more books, and my stacks got more precarious. A friend once compared my stacks of books to those stacks people make with rocks alongside rivers—except my stacks were not especially harmful to wildlife.

Now, I own a house that bears a striking resemblance to my childhood home (and very little resemblance to my pink-roofed dollhouse), but I still don’t have a bookshelf. Don’t get me wrong—large portions of hutches, console tables, nightstands, empty corners of rooms—serve as homes for my books. They’re the cornerstone of my house’s interior design; they’re spread all around, scaling the fireplace, holding up candles and framed photos, a couple dozen in every room. 

I like it this way. I like living amidst a poorly-filed library that I can access at every moment, in any room or on any surface or corner. I like that I can accidentally pick up a collection or novel and read the whole thing, just because it was there. Books are full of beautiful things that are meant to be happened upon, held onto, carried with us. It makes sense to me, not having a real bookshelf, because it means that books are everywhere, too great and necessary to ever really put away.


Kathryn Davis is a writer and editor from Michigan. She graduated in 2018 from Grand Valley State University, where she studied Creative Writing with an emphasis in Fiction, and served as editor-in-chief of the university’s literary journal, fishladder. You can find her work in Potomac Review, Third Coast, and elsewhere—or follow her on Twitter @kathrvndavis.

Sundress Reads Review Series Looking for Recently Published Books

As part of Sundress’s ongoing commitment to service, we recognize that COVID-19 has caused hardship by cancelling readings, launches, tours, and other needed promotional efforts. To combat this, Sundress Publications continues to accept submissions for consideration for inclusion in our review series, Sundress Reads. We’re looking to write featured reviews for any books published or to be published from July 2021 to June 2022. We at Sundress hope to champion writers whose work highlights human struggle and challenges misconceptions.

Authors or publishers of books published within this date range are invited to submit books, chapbooks, or anthologies in any genre for consideration by our reviewers who are standing by. Submissions will be considered on a rolling basis.

For immediate consideration, please forward an electronic copy of the book (PDFs preferred), author bio, photo of the cover, and a link to the publisher’s website to sundresspubications@gmail.com with “Sundress Reads: Title” as the subject line. In addition, we request that one print copy be mailed to Sundress Academy for the Arts, ATTN: Sundress Reads, 195 Tobby Hollow Lane, Knoxville, TN 37931.

Submissions to Sundress Reads will remain eligible for selection for one year. Hard copies will become a permanent part of the Sundress Academy for the Arts library and will be made available to SAFTA residents and staff as well as by request to affiliate journals for further reviews.

The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: No Other Rome by Heather Green


This selection, chosen by guest curator and Sundress intern Katherine DeCoste, is from No Other Rome by Heather Green, released by University of Akron Press in 2021. 

Aristotle is a Skeleton

The skeleton called out for sets of bones
to fill the hole, but then you reached your arm in,
your fingers stretched down to the unknown,
the loam, the moon-shy dark. You called, Abstraction!
as your fingers shaped into the word for five
but didn’t pull your hand back from the black
of the abyss until the digits, still alive,
became just 5. You cried, It’s too abstract!

when your arm snapped back: at the end of the limb
stood |5| which looked so vast but in fact was only
that which is not not five. At first you’d say
the skeleton had been the villain, blaming him,
but for the lure of the leap, the loss, though lonely.
In time, the hole transformed you all the way.


Heather Green‘s poetry collection No Other Rome was released in March of 2021 (Akron Poetry Series). Her writing has appeared in Bennington Review, Everyday Genius, the New Yorker, and elsewhere. She is the translator of Tristan Tzara’s Noontimes Won (Octopus Books, 2018) and her translations of Tzara’s work have appeared in Asymptote and Poetry International, and are forthcoming in AGNI. Green is an Assistant Professor in the School of Art at George Mason University.

Katherine DeCoste is an MA student at the University of Victoria, on the stolen lands of the Lekwungen-speaking peoples and the WSANEC peoples. Their poems have appeared in Grain Magazine, The Antigonish Review, Contemporary Verse 2, and elsewhere, and their play “many hollow mercies” won the 2020 Alberta Playwriting Competition Novitiate Prize. When not writing, reading, or answering emails, you can find them baking vegan snacks and forcing their friends to play Dungeons and Dragons.

Interview with Inès Pujos, Author of Something Dark to Shine In

In anticipation of the release of her collection Something Dark to Shine In, Inès Pujos spoke with Sundress Publications’ editorial intern Ryleigh Wann about the use of the speculative and macabre in writing, animals, and survival.

Ryleigh Wann: The manuscript for Something Dark to Shine In was, at some points, also known as Against Porcelain and Lilly of The Valley. Could you speak more about the title of the book and how it encompasses the collection?

Inès Pujos: When I originally finished writing the manuscript post-MFA, I named it Against Porcelain after the title poem, which captured this urgent and macabre perspective that seemed to thread the collection as a whole. There was something eerie about porcelain, in the color and the fragility nature of it all. After submitting to several contests, a few editors pointed out that they thought a different title would be better suited. So I began submitting it as Lilly of the Valley, a nod to another title poem that was added after the first draft of the manuscript. But as time went on, I felt that title felt a little too mundane. My manuscript was previously picked up by another press and the editor suggested that I just lift my opening quote from Frank Standford’s The Battlefield Where The Moon Says I Love You: “I’ll just bleed so the stars have something Dark to Shine In.” This quote has always resonated with me and really encompasses this idea of making something special out of one’s own martyrdom and trauma…which is what my whole collection discusses, and so the manuscript officially became Something Dark to Shine In.”

RW: Can you speak about the use of the speculative in this collection, found in the wolf
character in “Breaking Winter” or the meandering nature of “Patron Saint of All Lost Things”?

IP: I first began writing because I was not able to draw…or at least draw well. I always loved the surrealist painters and gravitated towards the surreal in my writing. It was in those early writing days that I created whole alternative worlds with these more fantastical characters all living in a village by the sea. As the years went on, more of these surreal characters began to emerge and I’ve carried them with me in various poems. Interestingly ,the wolf character appeared in my writing as a predator, in relation to the narrator. But over time, the wolf also became a feral protector. A few years out of writing “Breaking Winter,” I was working on my trauma with my therapist through EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) and the wolf character came to my protection…in all of his feralness he was able to be protective and at times nurturing so my relationship with this character changed.

As for “Patron Saint of All Lost Thing,” that poem was written in one sitting. I was on the train from NYC to New Haven and “Says I Love You”… I just remember having written one line and then it all flowed out of me, very much stream of consciences…which also could have been facilitated by the movement of the train. It was here that I explored a bit more of my personal family folklore and the long form allowed for a more whimsical approach. By the time I reach New Haven, I had the first draft done…my friend and I spent the afternoon walking through a graveyard …which was peak gothic and writerly and was able to make its way into sections of “Patron Saint of All Lost Things” after that.

RW: Can you tell me about the use of form throughout the collection, specifically in “Breaking Winter” or “More Blood in the East Village” and your use of space on the page?

IP: I find writing in certain forms to be very motivating when I experience writers block and although I am comfortable with more traditional form, I do like creating a hybrid out of it… taking something traditional and adding a twist to it. Yes…I love using white space…whether it is through erasure poems or using the space to create an erasure type esthetic. I use spaces as a way to add a bit more breath in my poems…often I find that my work has some manic energy to it and I rush to get everything on the page. The use of white space in “Breaking Winter” or “More Blood in the East Village” acts almost like the beat cue in screenplays. I want to add more tension between the manic/more urgent pacing with the use of white space.

RW: This haunting and haunted collection employs morbid language and imagery to discuss the impacts trauma has on the body. Can you discuss the influence of the macabre in your writing of such visceral language, themes, and imagery?

IP: My use of the macabre in my writing is a direct influence from my thought process and I’ve turned to writing to explore and destigmatize my own intrusive thoughts from previous traumas. But I also think that I’ve always been a bit morbid. As a child, I was fascinated by animals and wanted to be a surgeon. Growing up, my cats would often leave their prey lying around our yard and I would take their bodies back inside and try to examine their bodies and blood under a microscope. When I saw a dead bird on the road, I would put it in my bag and examine its wings, tried to sew it back. My desire to be a surgeon stopped the moment I experienced some medical trauma when I was thirteen. Though I still poured over my own surgery notes and pictures…I just didn’t feel comfortable inflecting harm on someone even if they medically need it. I find the body fascinating, whether human or animal and am curious to witness its inner workings. Post numerous surgeries and medical treatments, I took a lot of those experiences and put them into writing. That lived experience combined with intrusive thoughts only further fueled my more visceral images in themes. I think there’s a link between the macabre and trauma, In Esme Wang’s The Collected Schizophrenias, Esme teases out this connection beautifully…of consuming more macabre media and even true crime following a trauma. I think it’s my brain’s way of finding attunement, so I’m naturally drawn to morbidity.

RW: Tell me about the particular syntax of these poems, particularly the use of enjambment and blank spaces between phrases in individual lines like in “Good Faith.”

IP: I approached “Good Faith” in a similar manner to “Breaking Winter” and More Blood in the East Village”…in terms of the form and use of white space. Though, in this later poem, many of the spaces are not so much about creating tension and rather using the space to emphasize the intimacy between my partner and I…kind of like when we look at each other and I know what she’s thinking and vice versa.

RW: Something Dark to Shine In almost reads like a grimoire. Can you discuss the balance of the personal and cosmic mythologies (or magic) occurring within these poems?

IP: I grew up in the United States with just my immediate family…all my extended family was in France and so the only constant connection to my larger family was through old photographs. I used to take them out and look at my relatives, create narratives as a way to feel closer to my relatives. At an early age I found out about my grandmother’s suicide, which occurred when my mother was fourteen. My grandmother was so tragically beautiful and the stories surrounding her depression, her mental illness, and her family dynamics captivated me. So those stories always appeared to have some scene of mysticism/ family folklore. I would say that this folklore is very present in “Patron Saint of All Lost Things”, where I explore family grief and trauma and making something bright out of something so terribly tragic. It all ties back to the need to make something special, it’s very human.

RW: What truths do you think the book is searching for?

IP: I think a lot of personal truths were written within this manuscript by my own unconscious. When I first wrote the poems within my second and third semester of my MFA, I had not come to terms that during my first semester, I was raped. And yet, looking back at the poems now, almost ten years later, it was so clear that my body processed the rape earlier than my own mind…so there are so many personal truths hidden throughout the poems. Same goes for my own gender identity…I look at the lines that are in this book and I am stunned at how clearly I knew myself within that realm of the poem, but that it took me a little longer to come to terms with these truths.

RW: Many of the truths in these poems include a consideration of place, such as the East Village, Tompkins Square. I found it interesting how this ecotone is written about; the speaker or language of these poems interacting with a location. What does it mean to you to write about a place?

IP: I find location to be a very important part of my writing process. Perhaps it’s the influence of screenwriting, but I almost always need to ground myself in a physical space…whether imagined or real…I need the reader to be able to see where I am. And a great deal of these poems from the manuscript were written at coffee shops in the East Village, on my walks through Tompkins Park, and throughout the Lower East Side. I think there’s something inherently special about the East Village…so many great art movements were born there, and it was the first time that I saw a
large city function as literally a small village. I talk about my friend’s mother, Leslie, who I never met while she was alive…but having heard so many stories about her while in High school,  always imagined the neighborhood as Avant Garde and feral. When I first spent more time in the East Village, I felt instantly connected to it, and to Leslie, and I began writing my own folklore narrative between us.

RW: Which poems compel you the most?

IP: This answer has changed so many times of the years. Looking back, I notice the difference in my work the most with the poem entitled, “The New Frontier.” While the subject matter is about grooming and sexual assault, a subject that I cover in other poems, It’s the first poem that I am more direct about the subject itself. It was written after I had realized and began to process that I was a rape survivor, and I was more comfortable with claiming that trauma and had the words to articulate what I had survived. Previously, my unconscious didn’t’ have that clear cut language and I tended to rely on metaphors and more surreal settings. While there are some
surreal aspects to this poem, it felt like a turning point in my own trauma processing and writing.

Order your copy of Something Dark to Shine In today


Inès Pujos holds an MFA in Poetry from NYU. Their poems have appeared in The Adroit Journal, Gulf Coast, Puerto del Sol, and Verse Daily, among others. Their manuscript was a finalist for multiple prizes, including Alice James’ 2017 open reading period and Semi-finalist for The 2017 Berkshire Prize by Tupelo Press. For more information visit inespujoscreative.com.

Ryleigh Wann is an MFA poetry candidate at UNC Wilmington where she teaches creative writing and is the comics editor for Ecotone. Her writing can be found in Rejection LettersFlypaper Lit, and Kissing Dynamite Poetry, among others.

Sundress Announces the Release of Inès Pujos’ Something Dark to Shine In

Knoxville, TN— Sundress Publications announces the release of Inès Pujos’ Something Dark to Shine In, a debut poetry collection that considers the impact of pain while maintaining an unwillingness to surrender. 

In Something Dark to Shine In, trauma manifests in body horror. Skin strips away from flesh; blood stains floorboards; and teeth fall out to become toys. Death and religion hover constantly in the background of this haunting and haunted collection, even as the speaker reminds herself, “I am not dead yet.” Faced with the alienation and the horror of sexual violence, these poems resist the impulse to romanticize. Here, rot is marked by “a black wool of flies,” soil is laced with “chips of plates or lead paint,” and feral wolf-women refuse to be tamed. The classically beautiful becomes frightening such that a bee’s sweet honey is a reminder of the pain of their sting, and a golden crucifix is a symbol only of a calvary’s violence. Something Dark to Shine In refuses to look away from pain, from violence, yet to read these poems in a world where such atrocities become banal and commonplace, is to witness a profound refusal to die, a wish to find beauty, and even hope, in one’s own terror. 

Eileen Myles, author of I Must Be Living Twice and Inferno, (among many others) says, “Inès’ book is very pregnant and raggedy. I like it like I liked Lars Van Triers’ Nymphomaniac I & II. It’s medieval but darker like if a painter explained how he liked to cook—using skulls. So cavalier but with these tiny blots of light. Plus, she builds her poems with these good, great, organic lists that are never corny cause she’s seriously counting things in the world.” 

Order your copy of Something Dark to Shine In

Inès Pujos holds an MFA in Poetry from NYU. Their poems have appeared in The Adroit Journal, Gulf Coast, Puerto del Sol, and Verse Daily, among others. Their manuscript was a finalist for the following prizes, among others: BOAAT Press’s 2018 open reading period and Alice James’ 2017 open reading period, and semi-finalist for: The 2017 Berkshire Prize by Tupelo Press and the 2017 Pleiades Press Editors Prize for Poetry, among others. For more information, visit inespujoscreative.com


The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: Flowing Water, Falling Flowers by X.H. Collins


This selection, chosen by guest curator and Sundress intern Stephi Cham, is from Flowing Water, Falling Flowers by X.H. Collins, released by MWC Press in 2020. 

Excerpt from Chapter 23: Iris, Three Rivers, 1931, Spring

            It is difficult for me to remember when the trajectory of our lives shifted. Was it when Jasmine walked into our house in her simple, cream-colored cotton jacket, red pants, her long braid reaching to her slender lower back? Was it when You-jun jumped into the lotus pond and Jasmine said she would jump in with him if he didn’t come back? Or was it when Jasmine was sent back to Cloud Gate when You-jun was away in Chengdu? When I close my eyes, all the people and events float in front of me as if I were watching a puppet show, but I cannot remember what the main act was.

            If I had written it down back then, I might have remembered more clearly. But words only come to me now, after twenty years. After Mother was gone forever. After I myself have a grown daughter.


X.H. Collins (she/her) was born in Hechuan, Sichuan Province, China, and grew up in Kangding on the East Tibet Plateau. She has a Ph.D in nutrition and is a retired biology professor. When she’s not teaching or writing, she enjoys spending time with her family, reading, dancing (ballroom and Latin), and cooking. She is the author of the novel Flowing Water, Falling Flowers (MWC Press, Rock Island, IL, 2020). She lives in Iowa with her husband, son, and dog.

Stephi Cham is a freelance editor and author. She received her BM in Music Therapy and Minor in Psychology from Southern Methodist University and is pursuing her MA in Publishing at Rosemont College, where she is the Fiction Editor of Rathalla Review. She wrote the Great Asian-Americans series, published in 2018 by Capstone Press, and her writing has been featured in Strange Horizons.

Our Favourite Poetry Books of 2021

The year is coming to a close and you’re wondering what poetry releases you missed in 2021. We asked our staff, editors, and authors which poetry books they loved this year, so scroll down to find your next read!

Krista Cox, Managing Editor at Doubleback Review

Bloodwarm by Taylor Byas

Cleave by Tiana Nobile

A Net to Catch My Body in its Weaving by Katie Farris

Dialogues with Rising Tides by Kelli Russell Agodon

Anna Black, Managing Editor at Sundress Publications

How to Not Be Afraid of Everything by Jane Wong

Mouths of Garden by Barbara Fant

Autumn McClintock, Associate Poetry Editor at Doubleback Review

frank: sonnets by Dianne Seuss

Oh You Robot Saints by Rebecca Morgan Frank

Sarah Clark, Editorial Board Member at Sundress Publications

Bone House by K-Ming Chang

Waterbaby by Nikki Wallschlaeger

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