Paula Cisewski is the author of three books of poetry, The Threatened Everything (Burnside Review Books), Ghost Fargo (selected by Franz Wright for the Nightboat Poetry Prize), Upon Arrival (Black Ocean), and the lyric prose chapbook Misplaced Sinister (Red Bird Chapbooks). She lives in Minneapolis.
“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