ISBN-10: 1946448869
ISBN-13: 9781946448866
Publisher: Sarabande Books
Publish Date: 10/19/2021
Dimensions: 8.90" L, 6.40" W, 0.40" H

A Dangerous Place


Price: $15.95


Early in her powerful, affecting debut, Desautels writes: “I always mention gratitude because/people like that ending.” Unflinching in its candor, this is the story of a woman with two swellings in her belly: a nascent baby, and a cancerous tumor. The poet could focus on the particulars of the medical case, using language from a traditional illness narrative. Instead she gives us the basics, then gathers up surprising and expansive material from various landscapes–the Black Hills, the prairies of Texas, the mountains, switchgrass, and, especially, the neighboring buffalo, to which she feels a profound connection. Desautels’ metaphors strike home; they are counterpoints, balm to the uncertainty and grief that make us uncomfortable. The book moves elegantly from its dark beginnings to a transcendent thankfulness. With healing lyricism, she writes: “And I imagine the white sheets as heron wings./And the whirring machines are white eggs./And the worried voices are sunlight on water.”

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The New York Times, Editors' Choice
The New York Times, What to Read: 4 New Poetry Books"
CLMP, "A Reading List for Women's History Month"
Chicago Review of Books, Twelve Poetry Collections to Read in 2021"

The poems in DesAutels's debut collection snake between interior and exterior landscapes. The past interrupts the present, then life re-interrupts – we can't leave the present for long. In many of the poems the speaker is dealing with cancer, as in 'Broken Portrait, ' with its stark reversals of expectation: 'I married a good man. He loves me and irons his own shirts. I'm spoiled. / I mean I am rotting.'
–Gregory Cowles, The New York Times Editors' Choice

[L]ush and transformative...Using the natural world as her foundation, DesAutels writes about illness and motherhood in a collection that is arresting, fiercely tender, and teeming with life.
Publishers Weekly starred review

"I feel battered around by this poem, in a good way. I sometimes want a poem to abuse me a little, abuse my trust and shock me, to be quiet and then suddenly loud. In a poem, as DesAutels writes, there's 'no threshold between threat and tranquility.'"
–Elisa Gabbert, The New York Times

In 'Ghost Child, ' one of the poems in Chelsea B. DesAutels's debut poetry collection A Dangerous Place, she writes about a false pregnancy that turns out to be a cancer diagnosis, asking 'What kind of body prefers cancer to a child?' This parallel of growths–one hopeful, one terrifying–is a reflection of the many dualities and metaphors DesAutels explores in her work. Life itself is a 'dangerous place, ' and she is as interested in the subjects hardest to discuss as she is in the human emotions that allow us to move forward, despite them.
–Twelve Poetry Collections to Read in 2021, Chicago Review of Books

Chelsea B DesAutels's debut is a staggering assemblage of poetic mobility; both in its formal inventiveness and central resolve....Peripatetic in feeling yet grounded in fidelity, A Dangerous Place makes a home for itself as an exceptional debut. This poet's appetite is ferocious; her poetic ear as obvious and visceral as Plath's, and as in-tune and meditative as Robert Hass. DesAutels's is the essential voice of what is so often seen and unheard. What she has done here is both an accompaniment and invitation to one's own life, and the simultaneous life of one's body.
Salt Hill Journal, online

The most noticeable thing about the poems in this poet's collection is the poet sets the pace. There are poems that are frenetic, some feel like a steady gait, and some are like a slow walk sprinkled with pauses. As a reader, I appreciate this. As someone who is interested in the craft of writing, how the placement of words on a page matters, I'm in awe. The pace of the poems in this collection is as varied as the content of the poems: cancer, family, nature, religion, place (notably Minnesota vs Texas), love, and grief. I highly recommend it!
–Jennifer Wills Geraedts, bookseller at Beagle and Wolf Books & Bindery

"Right from the first pages, these poems pull us into a palpable, lush undertow of feeling. It is a place beyond words but not beyond living. This book insistently embraces possibility not as an abstraction but as a working part of the pact that the real makes with each of us. 'Of course / I always mention gratitude because / people like that ending. // And so what? Find me one person who / hasn't swallowed the past / & lost it inside the body.' These poems, finally, discover what seem to be new places inside us, new in their uncovering but not unfamiliar in our human dailiness." –Alberto Ríos

"Here is a book filled with the complexities and terrors of illness and motherhood, of the failures of the body and the threat of mortality–and what a graceful book it is, illuminated by eloquence and threat, and always, at center, deeply humane. Chelsea B. DesAutels is an unflinching, visceral poet, attuned to the many ways we understand our selves through the objects and people who surround us. A Dangerous Place is one of the most moving debuts I've read in years." –Kevin Prufer

"The title of Chelsea B. DesAutels's luminous first book A Dangerous Place does not exactly refer to any specific location on a map. Instead, this poet of clear-eyed ferocity shows us the danger in places familiar and unmappable–home, towns tiny and vast, and, above all, the body and the imagination. A Dangerous Place recounts the author's painfully twinned experiences of motherhood and cancer, but it is also a kind of travel guide oriented by vision, in which a womb blooms with gray moths and the self becomes a personal geology. DesAutels wields a compassion that comes from knowing that language, like life, suspends us between strength and vulnerability."–Jennifer Chang

"Danger is about power, and this surprising collection concerns itself with the destructive, the uncontrollable, and the terrifying as well as the determined, the sacred, the transformative. As the poet struggles with her disease and with the complexities of motherhood–her body described as 'more cavern than nest'–the poems fill with totems of wholeness: heron, crows, grackles, starlings, bull elk, and the keepers of life and hope, buffalo. In the central poem 'Black Hills, ' the speaker claims, 'none of us knows what to do with wonder.' I would argue DesAutels does. Like the heron, she watches, the sentinel of stillness, alert for danger and for possibilities. It's our great fortune that she shares the resulting wisdom with us."–Martha Serpas

"In A Dangerous Place, Chelsea B. DesAutels weaves together the radiant love and terror of mothering while battling a cancer that grows and morphs as mysteriously and swiftly as a newborn baby girl (and her phantom siblings). With each new American landscape and crisis, this mother's/wife's/daughter's love of self and others deepens as DesAutels's speakers find within horrific circumstances unnatural beauty. In the title poem, for example, a ravaged body becomes 'a heron disguising a large bed / in marshy grasses.' This inspired debut redefines how mercy manifests when we're looking–and especially when it seems it's nowhere to be found. In the wake of a devastating year, DesAutels's peerless innervisions reaffirm my faith in what the best poems can do for the human spirit. No doubt, you'll leave A Dangerous Place whispering, as I do each time I read it, what grace, what a triumph!"– L. Lamar Wilson

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ISBN-10: 1946448869
ISBN-13: 9781946448866
Publisher: Sarabande Books
Publish Date: 10/19/2021
Dimensions: 8.90" L, 6.40" W, 0.40" H
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