The Possession Sound Poetry Series publishes two select books per year, chosen by the editors during an open reading period. It showcases books that align with our mission of supporting musical, language-driven work by established poets.
In Morality Play, Lauren Hilger forges a restless path between the impressionable folly of youth and the boundlessness of individual becoming. A motley bildungsroman of fierce imagination, Morality Play reveals, and revels in, the paradox inherent in its title, angling for a tender virtue in the sensuousness of words. “Raised on a fast pencil, a sound expiring,” Hilger reminds us that “From the world’s first cities, it was always a woman / telling the future.” Like a wild song fluent in, and flung against, awkward self-delusion and constrictive cultural norms, Morality Play offers a vision of womanhood as expansive as lucid dreaming, where all the “wrong words” become our “mother tongue.”
Praise for Morality Play
“These poems let their wild vitality spill over—like the play of light over all the facets of a life, over all the ways a voice can clothe itself in logic and armor. Hilger reaches through that dazzle with a rare kind of shapeshifting intimacy, ‘a strip of magma from me to you.’”
“Haunting. Innovative. Genius.”
“Lauren Hilger has a knack for making the ordinary, uncanny; for making the ordinary sing. Morality Play is a collection of misreads, mistakes, and misunderstandings that are all so beautiful, so very familiar and so strange. In the poems, the speaker looks to the natural world to understand human nature—the collection’s raison d’être. As I read, I felt myself looking and being looked at. ‘She looked at me / aslant, as through branches and leaves / after that.’ It is a remarkable collection.”
“If morality concerns the distinction between right and wrong, then Lauren Hilger’s sophomore collection, Morality Play, is right, and righteous, in its astonishing beauty, its wondrous and delicate poetics. In the vibrant dazzle of the 2000s, Hilger names a cheer uniform a tangerine peel, licks a glass of lemonade for its condensate, recounts a past of denim skirts and spilt milk. Hilger is friendly with the ghosts of nostalgia and traces their paths from a misty translucence to true transparence. Time teaches us what it must. Hilger writes, ‘I know how to live my life now.’ And after spending time with Hilger’s collection, we will know to ‘love the breeze that messes up our hair.’”
—Kayleb Rae Candrilli
“There are infinite ways to cut a stone, but for them to sparkle requires the precision of a lapidarist. This ability to cut through the distillation of experience is what shines in Lauren Hilger’s Morality Play. Her poems move with the dexterity of light refracting—stalking each facet of thought with a cutting rigor: ‘that’s the truth, that’s the car on which I was taught brakes.’ There is nothing that escapes the brutal glittering of Hilger’s gaze: Tamagotchi, bar brawls, the Madonna and child in art, misogyny, faith, fashion. In her utter refutation of simplicity, Hilger’s work illuminates what Oppen called ‘the pure joy / Of the mineral fact /Tho it is impenetrable.’ These poems will break apart what you thought solid, if you just let them; they promise, ‘I could be the tool you twirl in the hand that hammers away.’”
“‘It’s her, / my father says, / of his mother, / but to some extent it’s me, I’m the echo,’ writes Lauren Hilger in one of the many exquisite poems in Morality Play, and it’s impossible as a reader not to feel the same—drawn into the I of this book, looking outward on oneself. Mysterious and impressionistic, Hilger’s sublime lyric voice commands with a devastating intentionality. Her language transfixes us.”
“Lauren Hilger’s Morality Play is a dance lesson in duality, when duality is multiplied, of what was, what is, real and imagined. A disquieting, reassuring look at how we see who we were, Hilger’s visions feel like past and future encouragement, an all-knowing theatre performance. I found myself unable to shake one of the opening lines, ‘I know how to live my life now.’ Because by the end of the book, I feel I do too.”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Lauren Hilger is the author of Lady Be Good (CCM, 2016.) Named a Nadya Aisenberg Fellow in poetry from MacDowell, she has also received fellowships from the Hambidge Center and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. Her work has appeared in BOMB, Harvard Review, Kenyon Review, Pleiades, The Threepenny Review, West Branch, and elsewhere. She serves as a poetry editor for No Tokens.
Please attend the official book launch for Morality Play!
Saturday, July 16, 3 pm
320 Walnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19106
Sierra Nelson’s poems are hypotheses of the evanescent world – its evaporations and evasions, its silences and speeches. “All ears, all eyes, all senses at attention,” Nelson examines the tenuous tentacles that connect humans, plants, and animals, that tether us to the past – detailing the surreptitiousness of joy, the necessity of loss, how a body is changed by everything it encounters. Line by line The Lachrymose Report reveals how language, like feeling, originates deep in every cell, as the wonder of these poems unfolds on an evolutionary scale.
Praise for The Lachrymose Report
Nelson’s poems are flowcharts of feeling, investigations into the ephemeral and the infinite. She documents the biology of being too alive.
—Rebecca Hoogs, author of Self-Storage
“We arranged the question marks / like a bouquet to catch the light.” The bright, bird-mind behind the poems of The Lachrymose Report sees the world and its questions in the best kind of strange light. It riffs on bits of sound, creating new song; it picks up moments of science, art, history, and daily life, weaving them into strange nests of words. “Looking at each other, / you and I hold fast / to our own dark matter – / like olives to their pits – / nursing our tenuous gravities.” Sierra Nelson makes a wondrous strange music of the sorrows of the world and plumbs vulnerable, treacherous depths in such a way that allows the reader to approach them safely and return enlivened. I’m grateful this collection is in the world.
—Elizabeth Bradfield, author of Approaching Ice and Once Removed
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Sierra Nelson was awarded the Carolyn Kizer Prize from Poetry Northwest in 2014. Her previous books include the chapbook In Case of Loss (Toadlily Press), and lyrical choose-your-own-adventure I Take Back the Sponge Cake (Rose Metal Press). She teaches creative writing at the Richard Hugo House, Centrum, Seattle Children’s Hospital through Writers in the Schools (WITS), and the University of Washington’s Friday Harbor Laboratories and Summer Writers in Rome programs. Nelson is also a founding member of the performance collaborations The Typing Explosion and Vis-à-Vis Society, and president of Seattle’s Cephalopod Appreciation Society.
Please join us for the official book launch for The Lachrymose Report
Friday, November 2, 7:30 pm
Nii Modo Art Gallery
4453 Stone Way N
Seattle, WA 98103
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