Poem for Louisville

I was asked by Louisville Magazine to compose an original piece of writing in response to the Kroger shootings. I wrote a poem, “Psalm,” and talked about the process of composition in an interview with LouMag editor (and my former student), Dylon Jones. Since “Psalm” appeared on line, it’s been shared dozens of times on social media. I’m glad that Louisville readers have found solace in the poem during this difficult time for our city.

New Poem On-Line at Tin House

I wrote a double sonnet crown, “Happinefs,” about my undergraduate days at the University of Virginia. A “double sonnet” or “heroic crown” begins with fourteen sonnets, each linked by a common line. The fifteenth sonnet, composed of the repetitions, “crowns” the sequence. My thanks to Camille Dungy and the editors of Tin House for making a home for this new piece on their blog.

Witch Wife Reviewed in Five Points

Many thanks to Caroline Crew for her thoughtful review of Witch Wife in Five Points journal, Georgia State University’s literary magazine.

 “There is no moment of  Witch Wife  that slacks— Petrosino revels in the crafting of sculptural cats-cradle like poems: strange and beautiful, morbid and musical,  Witch Wife  confirms Petrosino as both magician and master, and certainly one of America’s most fascinating contemporary poets.”

“There is no moment of Witch Wife that slacks— Petrosino revels in the crafting of sculptural cats-cradle like poems: strange and beautiful, morbid and musical, Witch Wife confirms Petrosino as both magician and master, and certainly one of America’s most fascinating contemporary poets.”

Al Smith Individual Artist Fellowship Award from the Kentucky Arts Council

I'm delighted to announce that I've been awarded an Al Smith Individual Artist Fellowship Award from the Kentucky Arts Council, the state arts agency in Kentucky. This year, sixteen writers across the Commonwealth were selected for these awards through a competitive application process. Check out KAC's list of recipients, past and present, a dynamic constellation of literary artists of all genres. Kentucky is a place of  storytellers, musicians, and poets. I'm proud to be in this company. 

New Essay for the International Writing Program Collections

Last year, I was invited to participate in the "To What Do I Belong" symposium in Tangier, Morocco hosted by the University of Iowa's International Writing Program and the US State Department. I wrote an essay, "In the Rooms of Monticello," as my contribution to the proceedings. Now the piece has been collected by the IWP on a special website. You can read my work and the writings of the other delegates--from around the world--who participated in the adventure. 

  As an American, I live in the shadow of Jefferson’s dream. I belong to its loveliness, and its terror. As a writer, I am trying to understand what this means.

As an American, I live in the shadow of Jefferson’s dream. I belong to its loveliness, and its terror. As a writer, I am trying to understand what this means.

Black Genealogy Reviewed in Cleaver Magazine

I'm very grateful for this detailed and thoughtful review by Claire Oleson of my chapbook, Black Genealogy, in the current issue of Cleaver Magazine.

 "Negotiating with a history that was blind towards the humanity of Black people in America,  Black Genealogy  is a work of sight determined to bring the readers’ eyes, thoughts, and awareness up close with both immense presence and an effort to find and revive immense loss."

"Negotiating with a history that was blind towards the humanity of Black people in America, Black Genealogy is a work of sight determined to bring the readers’ eyes, thoughts, and awareness up close with both immense presence and an effort to find and revive immense loss."

Witch Wife Reviewed in The Arkansas International

Witch Wife has received a wonderful capsule review in The Arkansas International.

 "Like a water witch running a dowsing rod over the dirt, the poems of Kiki Petrosino’s third collection measure out the angles of the world’s curves, finding them in the speaker’s thigh gap, the fins of seahorses, or at Jantar Mantar, a gigantic Indian sundial that “curves away into slices of egg.” In “Political Poem,” the speaker teases through various incantations of Martin Luther King Jr.’s “arc of the moral universe,” through the “arc of green fireworks in spring” to the arc of her own spine until “bodies, berries, beaks, barns” are all collapsing toward justice.  Unfolding over four sections—each sprinkled with villanelles and other crackling formal quirks— Witch Wife  deftly slides back and forth between the humorous and the devastating, between the guttural and the cosmic, between the conditions of America and the particularities of the speaker’s own body. The body is “runny custard . . . with its buried corkscrew of hate.” The body is “botched,” is prophesied to have “a good belly for twins.” Motherhood, for the speaker a subject of yearning, fear, and revulsion, is a tension at the collection’s heart. In “Ghosts,” one of many poems in this collection haunted by the ghost of Anne Sexton, mothers “wear the moonrise like lace.”  On top of it all,  Witch Wife  is tremendously, darkly funny. In the afterlife, the speaker’s exes “rise up from their Mazdas & adorn themselves in denim.” Certain to make many ‘best of’ lists for poetry this year,  Witch Wife  is not one to be missed."

"Like a water witch running a dowsing rod over the dirt, the poems of Kiki Petrosino’s third collection measure out the angles of the world’s curves, finding them in the speaker’s thigh gap, the fins of seahorses, or at Jantar Mantar, a gigantic Indian sundial that “curves away into slices of egg.” In “Political Poem,” the speaker teases through various incantations of Martin Luther King Jr.’s “arc of the moral universe,” through the “arc of green fireworks in spring” to the arc of her own spine until “bodies, berries, beaks, barns” are all collapsing toward justice.

Unfolding over four sections—each sprinkled with villanelles and other crackling formal quirks—Witch Wife deftly slides back and forth between the humorous and the devastating, between the guttural and the cosmic, between the conditions of America and the particularities of the speaker’s own body. The body is “runny custard . . . with its buried corkscrew of hate.” The body is “botched,” is prophesied to have “a good belly for twins.” Motherhood, for the speaker a subject of yearning, fear, and revulsion, is a tension at the collection’s heart. In “Ghosts,” one of many poems in this collection haunted by the ghost of Anne Sexton, mothers “wear the moonrise like lace.”

On top of it all, Witch Wife is tremendously, darkly funny. In the afterlife, the speaker’s exes “rise up from their Mazdas & adorn themselves in denim.” Certain to make many ‘best of’ lists for poetry this year, Witch Wife is not one to be missed."

New Poem in The Nation

A couple weeks ago, my poem, "A Guide to the Louisa County Free Negro and Slave Records, 1770-1865" was published in The Nation. Thanks to poetry editors Carmen Gimenez-Smith and Stephanie Burt for giving this one a home. This poem will be part of my next book, tentatively titled White Blood, and based on research into my deep roots in rural central and northern Virginia.