Finalist Audre Lorde Poetry Prize


"Part lamentation, part ode, this urgent and scintillating second collection by poet and activist Patterson examines the beauty and violence of our present ecological moment with a lyric and meditative eye."―Publishers Weekly

“Quiet, patient, yet often with a swarming force, these poems worry the fraught intersection between humanity and nature, where, as we quickly see, threat abides.”―Ryo Yamaguchi, New Pages

“Comprised of free verse poetry that is part lamentation and part ode, Threnody is an inherently fascinating and engaging read that showcases Juliet Patterson's genuine flair for linguistic image making and truly memorable verse in a compendium that is very highly recommended for personal reading lists, as well as community and academic library Contemporary Poetry collections. 'Nounal': Purblind wall-space, white / white, tree-studded / tract in the windowed / air. Ray of light point, the dark marsh / shows its way through / the ragged wood. // The half-opened door, / you, with all your otherness, Here, the faint sounds / of shade, the tumbled sheen / of home. A wave, a word, / adrift.”―Midwest Book Review Small Press Bookwatch

The Truant Lover

Winner Nightboat Poetry Prize

Finalist Lambda Literary Award


Spare, pastoral, intimate, and probing, these musically exacting poems offer arresting insights: “Here’s a world for today: // killing & not dying / fantastically, not lying.” They question, invent, refer, divert, take flying risks. They are fluid, considered, dignified. They celebrate the human eye, mind, and tongue. It is a joy to have them in print.—Olga Broumas

Juliet Patterson’s poems are entirely themselves; they use time and the eye and tongue—all the body, as thought and insight, inside and outside history. The Truant Lover is a marvel—Jean Valentine

In the 31 poems of Patterson's debut (also the first full-length collection from Nightboat Books), stories create the experiences they narrate: ""As in the parable, the truant lover / arrived."" Speaking in a clinical, yet vulnerable voice, Patterson seeks to delineate ""I"" from ""eye"": ""I in the form of my own urging, eye / in its movement follows the body's future / path."" Patterson's style foregrounds the visual, and the book is rife with references to visual artists. Lines are also lifted from poets including Lorine Niedecker, Brenda Shaughnessy and Donald Revel, emphasizing the connection of the senses and the arts. Patterson's search for self-knowledge often threatens violence as well: ""A book is a huge cemetery."" Yet this same force also preserves life: "Members breeding / on poisonous members // store the poisons / for their own defense." Patterson has crafted a far reaching first book that blends self-interrogation with metaphysical inquiry. Both Patterson and Nightboat show great promise.—Publisher’s Weekly

These poems are driven by a voice that I think would define the world clearly and unequivocally if it were possible. Instead, the poet is forced (like most of us) to offer up images, the correspondences that connect them, and the humanity behind what life leaves for us. —Mercer Butler, Painted Bride Quarterly

In EPILOGUE Juliet Patterson performs an act of intimate illumination as she narrates with poetic and visionary clarity the experience of her father's death by suicide and her subsequent inquiry into his actions. Like the best work done at soul level, Patterson's awareness that the focus of her quest is unattainable only makes it more necessary and more transformative. EPILOGUE explores the paradoxes inherent in mourning—its way of demanding privacy but also communion, interiority but also expression—with a stunning and wise lyricism. As Patterson investigates her experience of grief for meaning, her insights surface as moments of intense compassion available to us all.