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.

New Essay in Off Assignment

I wrote a "Letter to a Stranger" as part of a recurring feature in the on-line travel writing journal, Off Assignment. You can read the letter & hear my recording of the piece by following the SoundCloud link on the site. My letter is addressed to my late grandmother, Cleopatra, and it's about the summer we spent together in 2001. 

My grandparents in the 1940s

My grandparents in the 1940s

Essay Series on Ploughshares Blog

I'm a 2016 blogger for Ploughshares! Approximately once a month, I'll progress query-by-query through Thomas Jefferson's Notes on the State of Virginia, seeking poetic connections. This month is all about water (and villanelles).

The recurring image for this series is the Fry-Jefferson map of 1753. This map was produced by Peter Jefferson (TJ's father!) and Joshua Fry, both accomplished surveyors. Their work became the definitive map of 18th century Virginia, and Thomas Jefferson often refers to it in his  Notes.  

The recurring image for this series is the Fry-Jefferson map of 1753. This map was produced by Peter Jefferson (TJ's father!) and Joshua Fry, both accomplished surveyors. Their work became the definitive map of 18th century Virginia, and Thomas Jefferson often refers to it in his Notes.