If Birds Gather Your Hair For Nesting

Poems by Anna Journey
Selected by Thomas Lux


“Many female poets address sex in tones of victimhood, but Journey is downright predatory. Indeed, she's all about ecstasy in the original sense, meaning to leave your state of being. But if living to the fullest requires ecstasy, then it also requires a dose of death. Journey has her misgivings about this, which hints at a kind of existential sanity. That makes If Birds Gather Your Hair for Nesting a fabulous little book, the work of a young poet (I kept hearing bits of Wallace Stevens and Maxine Kumin) wise beyond her years.”
Los Angeles Times

“With these poems Journey flings the shop door wide open. She puts the needle on the record. She pumps up the bass.”

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In this debut collection, Anna Journey invites the reader into her peculiar, noir universe nourished with sex and mortality. Her poems are haunted by demons, ghosts, and even the living who wander exotic landscapes that appear at once threatening and seductive. In these poems, her sly speaker renames a pink hibiscus on display at Lowe's, "Lucifer's Panties"; another character chants, "I'd fall devil / over heels over edge over oleander"; and one woman writes a letter to the underworld:

Dear black bayou, once, by a river

I bit a man's neck. His scent: the raw

teak air husked inside stomachs of six

Russian nesting dolls--the ones in the attic I pulled

apart and open. The ones I

pulled apart and open like Styrofoam cups.

The National Poetry Series

Page count: 104 pp.


List price: $19.95

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Anna Journey is currently a PhD candidate in creative writing and literature at the University of Houston and a poetry editor for Gulf Coast. Her poems have been published in a number of journals, including American Poetry Review, FIELD, and Kenyon Review, and her essays have appeared in Blackbird, Notes on Contemporary Literature, and Parnassus. In 2006, Journey discovered the unpublished status of Sylvia Plath's early sonnet "Ennui" and the influence of Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby on it.