These poems describe the outside world with a luminous grasp of detail, clarity, connection. Soon enough in every poem it seems the external world is giving way to a subtle interior of feeling and nuance. What is surprising is the command of language and music in which this occurs, and the sheer precision of both. There are pleasures on every page here, making this one of the best debut collections I have read.
—Eavan Boland, author of New Collected Poems (W.W. Norton) & The Making of a Poem
The birds that populate Shara Lessley’s rich and elegant debut collection are avatars that mediate experiences of loss and violence haunting the deepest reaches of the human psyche. In language that is luxurious and musical Lessley creates the two-headed nightingale that is not so much a freak of nature as it is a paradox of the imagination and as such its special and disturbing gift of sight gives us access to the terrible and beautiful double nature of the self.
—Michael Collier, Director of the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference & author of An Individual History (Poems)
Shara Lessley has a scrupulous eye for the natural world, for the detail of memory, for the seemingly ordinary in which she often finds the surprise, the bizarre, or a painful past. In language that is sharp and clear, in forms that are disciplined by a discerning mind, she also explores the lives of liminal women and American outsiders. This is a first book you shouldn’t miss.
—Peter Balakian, author of Ziggurat & Black Dog of Fate: A Memoir