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Paula Cisewski

Paula Cisewski's fourth poetry collection, Quitter, won the Diode Editions Book Prize. She is also the author of The Threatened Everything, Ghost Fargo (Nightboat Poetry Prize winner, selected by Franz Wright), Upon Arrival, and several chapbooks, including the lyric prose Misplaced Sinister. She has been awarded fellowships and residencies from organizations including the Jerome Foundation, the Minnesota State Arts Board, the Oberholtzer Foundation, Banfill-Locke Center for the Arts, and House of Helsinglight. Her poems have been featured on Verse Daily and included in the anthologies Privacy Policy: The Anthology of Surveillance Poetics, Rocked by the Waters: Poems of Motherhood, Rewilding: Poems for the Environment, Beyond the Frame, and New Poetry from the Midwest.

Most recently, her visual work has been featured on the covers of Rain Taxi Review of Books and Concision Literary Journal, in Folder Magazine, and in the group exhibit Beyond the Page: Poets as Artists in the New Year at Friedli Gallery.

While raising her son, Cisewski earned her BA from St. Catherine's University and her MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts. During those years, she worked in warehouses, was a mosaic artist mentor, owned a coffee shop, and waited one million tables. She lives in Minneapolis, where she teaches writing privately and academically, collaborates, makes visual work, serves as co-editor of Beauty School Editions and as poetry curator for The Waves, a quarterly cabaret of poets and musicians.


"Poetics in These Here End Times: An Interview with Paula Cisewski." William Stobb. Rain Taxi. 17 July 2018.

Select Poems/Lyric Essays

"Love & Danger" & "Is This Victory?" Midway Journal.

"Preserved and Adorned with Flowers." Prompt Press.

"A Philatory." Dream Pop Journal.

"Dear Bad One." Brevity.

"Ghost of Songbird." Vinyl.

"Myopia." Diode Poetry Journal.

"Fourth Ballad from the Labyrinth." Verse Daily.

"The First Person." Matter Monthly.

"Tyros' World Tour" & "Telescope Psalm." Blackbird.

"Chance Operations." Everyday Genius.

"Ode to Continual Loss." Failbetter.

"The Word String Can't Blister Your Hands." Conduit.

Photo Courtesy of Autumn Pingel, Photographer



February 2017

“‘I’m afraid / that there’s a prison / at the heart of everything.’ In quitter, Paula Cisewski quits everything except doubt, the kind of cavernously honest doubt that philosophers crave and that the American Project will need to forge as its lodestone if this planet is to continue. Only someone doing it (Poetry) right could ask, ‘how can I / possibly be / doing this right,’ illuminating the difficult path with humility and care. For what but ‘an earnest / straining to hear / will return the here / to the here.’ quitter slips into the labyrinth for its dark heart, for its beastliness, but it escapes with something far greater: light. ‘Whatever light there is, that’s what it’s time for.’ This is a book about labor and refusal. We the people, more than ever, need poets like Paula to walk and work the labyrinth for us, to refuse easy answers and bring back seeds of resistance. I am so grateful for this timely, intimate, and incandescent book.”

—Chris Martin, author of The Falling Down Dance, Becoming Weather and American Music

“Paula Cisewski’s latest book is full of labyrinths and scavengers, blossoms and bus commutes, Shakespeare and Chopin and Bowie and Hüsker Dü. Reading it is like commiserating over the end of the world with your smartest friend, only to realize, after a night of dark humor and etudes, that you’re just at the halfway point. There is so much more, even as our bodies tether us to so much of the same. Cisewski makes every bit of it beautiful.’”

—Kate Harding, author of Asking for It: The Alarming Rise of Rape Culture—And What We Can Do About It


"May 2017 Exemplars: Poetry Reviews." Grace Cavalieri. Washington Independent Review of Books. 26 May 2017.


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