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1.) How does the use of poetry (as opposed to fiction or nonfiction prose) serve this subject? How might this have been a different book if this was a collection of essays or short stories?
2.) Does the book contain a narrative arc that you can find? How does the anthology move us from one poem into the next?
3.) Why do you think this book opens and ends with the poems chosen?
4.) Does the poet’s gender affect your interpretation of the work at all? Does it change your reading of Andy Young's "Fire on the Prophet’s Face” to learn that Andy is short for Andrea?
5.) Select one or two poems to read aloud to each other. How does hearing the poem and allowing the words to hang in the air change the weight or gravity of the poem, if at all?
6.) Prose poems are pieces of writing in prose having obvious poetic qualities, including intensity, compactness, prominent rhythms, and imagery. There are several in this anthology, including "VII. from SWEET/CRUDE: A Bakken Boom Cycle,” “Dormitory,” “Flower Girl Dress,” “Blackberries,” “Doctor’s Office,” “Calculatin,” "Amen to All That,” "In the time of scurvy,” and "Dear Police Officer.” How does a prose poem move in a different way from a traditional poem with line breaks? What do you think this accomplishes?
7.) The poem “Tryptich” is an erasure poem, compiled of three news articles about death of Caroline Minjares and all centering her estranged boyfriend. What has this poem erased? What choices has the poet made in order to both obscure and illuminate pieces of this poem and story? What is this poem trying to both show us and tell us?
8.) There is not only a discussion of domestic violence in this anthology but also an indictment of global state violence against women and non-binary persons. Find some of the poems written through this lens to discuss. Which speak to you and how or why?
Melissa Hassard is a poet and the former managing editor of Sable Books Hybrid Publishing and founder of Women Writers of the Triad. She co-edited Red Sky: Poetry on the Global Epidemic of Violence Against Women in 2017.
Poet's Bio: Gabrielle Langley is the author of Azaleas on Fire (Sable Books, 2019) and Fairy Tale (forthcoming from Sable Books, 2023). She has been featured in the Huffington Post and the Houston Chronicle as one of Houston's important emerging poets (“Five Poets You Need to Know About,” HuffPost 11/23/2015). Published in the United States and in Europe, she is recipient of the Lorene Pouncey Award, Houston Poetry Fest's Jury Prize, Vivian Nellis Memorial Award for Creative Writing, an ARTlines national poetry finalist, and three-time Pushcart Prize nominee. Ms. Langley was also a spearhead and co-editor for Red Sky: Poetry on the global epidemic of violence against women (Sable Books - 2016). During the day, Ms. Langley works as a licensed mental health professional. To safeguard her own mental health, she writes poetry and Argentine tango at night.
Stacy R. Nigliazzo is a nurse and an MFA candidate at the University of Houston Creative Writing Program. Her poems have appeared in the Bellevue Literary Review, Beloit Poetry Journal, the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), Ploughshares, and elsewhere. She is co-poetry editor of Pulse, Voices From The Heart of Medicine, and reviews poetry for the American Journal of Nursing. She has served the Houston community as a frontline caregiver in the emergency department over the course of five pandemic surges.