Anna, Washing

Poems by Ted Genoways

Poems at the intersection of private stories and public history


"In Mr. Genoways's hands the sonnet is pleasingly elastic. . . . Formally astute and emotionally resonant, Anna, Washing is a fine example of the historical narrative in lyric form."
—Linda Bierds, author of First Hand

"While in conversation with excellent books that have come before it—Rita Dove's Thomas and Beulah, Ellen Voigt's Kyrie, and A. Van Jordan's Macnolia, for example—its framework, balance of thematic material, its scaffolding of form and elegantly shifting perspectives make it wholly original. Quite simply, a beautiful book."
—Natasha Trethewey, author of Native Guard

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Set against the bleak backdrop of the Yukon and the historical moment of the 1897 Klondike gold rush, this chronologically arranged series of sonnets is grounded in the lived experience of Finnish immigrants Anna and Abe Malm. Anna hauls her Anthony Wayne Washer into the wilderness and sets up a laundry business while Abe seeks his fortune. Anna and Abe share a unique history, revealed in the book's epigraph: Anna, nineteen years her husband's senior, had first raised him and then married him.

Genoways's graceful formalism makes percussive music of a story marked by isolation and brutal difficulty. He manages a deft and plain-speaking rhyme that is in keeping with the tough lives his poems explore. The poems, which shift in frame from Anna's letters or Abe's diary to third-person verse that captures the characters' inner thoughts, bring the vitality of luminous detail and psychological depth to the arc of history.

The VQR Poetry Series

Page count: 80 pp.
Trim size: 5.5 x 8.5


List price: $19.95

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Ted Genoways is the editor of the Virginia Quarterly Review. His first book, Bullroarer, won the Samuel French Morse Poetry Prize, the Natalie Ornish Poetry Award, and the Nebraska Book Award.