paper • 72 pages • 15.95
ISBN-13:  978-1-884800-90-0


Farrah Field

Winner of the 2007 Levis Poetry Prize
selected by Tony Hoagland

What rises—and to what end? Farrah Field’s gripping debut collection, Rising, offers a new Southern poetry in which “your eyes righten to Bayou and moth hum.// Fish bite at talk of Lacan and swim away Jefferson.” Field—who is from Cheyenne, Wyoming, by way of Nebraska, Colorado, Louisiana, Arkansas, Sicily, Belgium, and Brooklyn—interrogates the passion of itinerancy, the ways “the old lust bakes/ and rises, searching for a new home.”

In Rising, Field lets loose a Calamity Jane-like voice loaded with screwball humor: “Knight of slight hiccup,/ Knight of octopus ink-dyed pasta.” “Shake the prongs of kudzu or lose the accent, girl,” advises one brilliantly epigrammatic poem. In poems with titles like “You Eat Like a Pig and Someone Should Tell You” or “Wedding in a Nightgown and Fur Coat,” Field hits her subjects head-on, unrepentant even as she is good-humored. Laughter, though, is all too often not that far from slaughter, and Rising unflinchingly confronts violent loss as well as sensual indulgence: “So much is let out of a face and I read in folk Someone killed your someone too.” Questions about what happened resolve into statements, into a determination to understand murder or divorce and a thirst to know what to do with anger and desire.

Field re-thinks Southern storytelling, turning away from narratives of proud heritage to show that what is alive is closest and most important: how sex rises, how love rises, how a rowboat’s “paddles hit the water: trust, lift, gleam, trust.” Rising’s roving not-quite-South is here-and-now, and Field’s vibrant collection ends in “emphasis and wonder,” “planning Jefferson myth-debunking,” “it’s October and you are happy,” and we know the quality of happiness, traveling through and leaving behind loss.

Praise by Tony Hoagland
Praise by Publishers Weekly, Starred Review 4/19/2009

“These poems possess a wonderful combination of irony and soul, satire and vulnerability, which shines a warmly human light.” —Tony Hoagland

“While it might be possible, on first read, to assume that Field’s quirkily, aphoristic poems are some kind of ode to a simple and innocent Southern aesthetic, with titles like ‘Self Portrait in Toad Suck, Arkansas’ and ‘Possums and Critters Gets Back There,’ her debut book is nothing of the kind, immediately assuring the reader that she ‘has already outlived her older sister/ and determines: I am blessed but not by God.’ At the core of these searing poems is the story of Field’s sister who was brutally murdered, which Field tells and retells in poem after poem, as if it could finally be got off her chest: ‘Only so much is let out/ of a face and I read in folk Someone killed your someone too.’ The saddest of these poems see with eyes that ‘are big for wrong reasons,’ but Field also has a warmth and humor that refuse to let every poem be sad. There is no wallowing, just cold observation of a hurt heart’s deep life (‘admit you feel as though you never wear shoes’), where there is no simple consolation for the things that shouldn’t happen but do: ‘Murders happen all the time./ I really lost it walking from her new grave// to the car. Then the subject changes./ Someone tells me I’m so strong.'” —Publishers Weekly, Starred Review 4/19/2009