The Badass Brontës by Jane Satterfield
ISBN: 9781939728579; poetry collection, 6.5x9" paperback
Publication Date: March 2023
Author: Jane Satterfield
Location: Doha, Qatar and Richmond, Virginia
Distribution: Distributed by Diode Editions
About the Collection
In blazing poems of biography and reinvention, Jane Satterfield’s The Badass Brontës explores the lives and afterlives of sisters Emily, Charlotte, and Anne, “hellbent/at books & candle-lit” and the inspiration for readers and writers as far-ranging as Kate Bush and Sylvia Plath. A Yorkshire cleric’s daughters forced to break into publishing by masquerading as men, here they burn brightly as themselves in poems that range from life narratives and lyric elegies to witty inquiries into the sisters’ status as popular culture avatars. Here you’ll find a poem in the form of an Internet quiz that reveals which Brontë you most resemble, a look at the tattoos a modern-day Emily might have worn, the title poem in which the sisters stride forward as action heroes, and a poem on Harriet Beecher Stowe’s real-life attempt to summon Charlotte’s ghost in a séance.
Elsewhere, Satterfield’s vision looks to the crises of our own age. In a sequence about desire and women’s choices, Emily is reimagined as an apprentice hedgewitch encountering the medicinals of “Eve’s herbs,” a pupil tutored in the secrets that they harbor; meanwhile, Charlotte faces the primal trauma that robbed the sisters of their mother when she confronts the reality of her own fatal pregnancy. Here are treasures galore: from poems that reflect Emily’s status as a proto-environmentalist whose rescued hawk Nero is a source of joy and grief, to further channelings of the Brontë sisters’ sensitivity to fragile landscapes and the more-than-human world. For longtime Brontë fans and newcomers alike, The Badass Brontës is a poetic tour-de-force that remixes and reinvents the lives, afterlives, and creative achievements of three extraordinary women whose influence continues to be felt.
Jane Satterfield’s beautiful new collection The Badass Brontës reimagines the world of the Brontë sisters. With a range of forms including ekphrasis, letters, a cento, a sestina and even a quiz—“Which Brontë sister are you?”—Satterfield’s poems are both daring and inventive. The poems investigate the Brontës’ vivid world of imagination and envision the sisters’ lives in our present moment, during the pandemic lockdown and the climate crisis. I love The Badass Brontës for its lyric grace but also for its boldness and wit. As Satterfield writes in the poem “Volumes,” “A book’s an invitation, / excoriation, sustenance, pilgrimage…” and this exhilarating book is all of this and more.
—Nicole Cooley, author of Girl after Girl after Girl
Jane Satterfield’s The Badass Brontës is a work of superbly achieved research, imagination, and lyricism. In poems that traverse subjects that connect the centuries and collapse time, this book-length sequence vividly recreates a world of linkages between the Brontës’ lives and novels and our own present-day realities—from Covid and quarantine, to species extinction, gendered oppression, the diminishment of women’s literary voices, and the legacies of colonialism, slavery, and the Industrial Revolution. Brimming with historically precise detail and lush descriptions of the physical landscape (as well as the domestic spaces and psychic interiors the Brontës inhabited), the poems are also about sisterhood itself, examining the complex relationship between the Brontës and that between the poet and her literary foremothers. In poems addressed to the sisters and persona poems in various voices, in verse inflected by an array of formal measures, Satterfield powerfully casts a spell that “summons the spectral,” bringing these three famous and famously misunderstood “weird sisters” out of the past to walk in the present.
—Shara McCallum, author of No Ruined Stone
“Would you / say the here & now is a horizon / to eternity?” asks the poet of Emily Brontë in the proem that introduces Jane Satterfield’s remarkable new collection. With consummate empathy, the poems of The Badass Brontës seek nothing less than to interfuse historical, personal, and artistic horizons, and do so with such formal and tonal vibrancy they accomplish something close to a co-presence of the Brontës’ haunting and haunted world and our own fraught and frangible one. In Satterfield’s work, the voices of these figures emerge as from a proverbial mind-meld with the poet’s, such that every detail feels conjured alive, awake, so each becomes, like all of us, “one bright strand / in the story of time & / vanishing.”
—Daniel Tobin, author of Blood Labors
About the Author
Jane Satterfield’s six books of poetry include The Badass Brontës (a Diode Editions winner, 2023) and Apocalypse Mix (2017, Autumn House Poetry Prize). She is also the author of Her Familiars (Elixir Press, 2013), Assignation at Vanishing Point (Elixir Press Book Award, 2003), and Shepherdess with an Automatic (WWPH, 2000, Towson University Prize for Literature). Sections from Satterfield’s Daughters of Empire: A Memoir of a Year in Britain and Beyond (Demeter Press, 2009) received Florida Review’s Editors’ Prize, the Faulkner Society/Pirate’s Alley Essay Award, and the John Guyon Literary Nonfiction Prize. With Laurie Kruk, she co-edited the multi-genre anthology Borderlands and Crossroads: Writing the Motherland.
Satterfield received a National Endowment for the Arts poetry fellowship and several Maryland State Arts Council awards. Individual poems have won Bellingham Review’s 49th Parallel Poetry Prize, as well as the Ledbury Festival Poetry Prize and the Mslexia women’s poetry prize (both U.K. awards). She has been a Walter E. Dakin fellow at the Sewanee Writers’ Conference and received residency fellowships from the Arvon Foundation (U.K.), the Vermont Studio Center, the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, and the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference.
Satterfield’s poetry, prose, and lyric essays have appeared in American Poetry Review, Antioch Review, The Common, Crazyhorse, DIAGRAM, Ecotone, Hotel Amerika, Hopkins Review, Missouri Review, North American Review, Notre Dame Review, Orion, Pleiades, Shenandoah, and elsewhere, as well as on Verse Daily and Poetry Daily. She has served on the faculty of the West Chester Poetry Conference and as the 2019 Salisbury, Maryland Poet-in-Residence.
Satterfield is married to poet Ned Balbo. Born in Corby, England, to a British mother also born in Corby, she holds an MFA from the University of Iowa and is a professor of writing at Loyola University Maryland.