Witch Wife, Kiki Petrosino
Witch Wife, Kiki Petrosino
Vol. 1 Brooklyn, "December 2017 Book Preview"
The Millions, "Must-Read Poetry: December 2017"
Memorious Mag, "Contributor Spotlight Bonzana"
The poems of Witch Wife are spells, obsessive incantations to exorcise or celebrate memory, to mourn the beloved dead, to conjure children or keep them at bay, to faithfully inhabit one’s given body. In sestinas, villanelles, hallucinogenic prose poems and free verse, Kiki Petrosino summons history’s ghosts—the ancestors that reside in her blood and craft—and sings them to life.
Kiki Petrosino is the author of two previous books of poetry: Hymn for the Black Terrific (2013) and Fort Red Border (2009). She holds graduate degrees from the University of Chicago and the University of Iowa Writer's Workshop. Her poems and essays have appeared in Best American Poetry, The New York Times, FENCE, Gulf Coast, Jubilat, Tin House and online at Ploughshares. She is founder and co-editor of Transom, an independent online poetry journal. She is an Associate Professor of English at the University of Louisville, where she directs the Creative Writing Program. Her awards include a residency at the Hermitage Artist Retreat and research fellowships from the University of Louisville's Commonwealth Center for the Humanities and Society and the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities.
Praise for Witch Wife:
"Petrosino. . . crackles in her stunning third collection, as she dives deep into the ephemeral powers of the body, particularly those of black women. . . .Cosmic images blend with the familiar and domestic to create an all-encompassing reading experience."
—Publishers Weekly, starred review
“In Petrosino’s singular world, the familiar becomes strange, and the strange, suddenly irresistible, settles deep in the bones. Sparkling with sly wordplay and fantastical imagery, these are not only masterful poems but mighty incantations. Utterly spellbinding.”
"Witch Wife offers that maybe all love stories are stories of bodies. We are within before we are without. Petrosino is a unique voice, churning a mixture of smirk and mirth. . . Witch Wife is a weird wonder, something altogether new in its combinations."
—The Millions, "Must-Read Poetry: December 2017"
"When the poet gets personal, asking the stranger to sit through her deep feelings about her body, her lover, her dreams and fears, the stranger makes a demand in return: only if you interest me, poet. And yes, Kiki Petrosino fully delivers on that account. She is thoughtful, eminently likable—it’s a pleasure to know her."
“Petrosino has long been one of my favorite poets, working her linguistic sorcery through the heart’s palette with aching joy and stinging creativity. Her words kindle. Her poems are pure fire. Witch Wife might be her finest burn yet.”
“Kiki Petrosino’s lush and stunning Witch Wife is a hothouse in winter, incongruous and adamantly fertile, full of strange blossoms, site of refuge and danger. Someone has drawn pictures in all the steamy windows. These are poems about what composes us—our names, our flesh, our vexed relationships to both—and about ambivalence turned glittering and feral, about the question of what the body can and cannot stomach. Petrosino’s language turns organs into verbs, and verbs into organs, metabolizing the strangeness of presence, regret, and hope. When I read this book on the subway, the investment banker sitting next to me was reading over my shoulder. He could tell I was warming myself by some kind of fire. And I was. It was glorious.”
“Liberated verses, strangely lyrical prose poems, and altered constructions are Petrosino’s forte. She delights in unsettling the familiar with startling results, whether channeling Anne Sexton or William Blake. Her stylish innovation refashions traditional forms that insist on repetition. The poet signs her given name in a ghazal that also is an elegy for her namesake. She patterns a ‘political’ sestina on a line that President Obama quotes from a sermon by M.L.K., who paraphrases Theodore Parker. In several unconventional villanelles, Petrosino abandons end-rhyme while keeping the double refrains and tenacious obsessions. Her chosen form admits recurring thoughts and dreams of conceiving a potential child: ‘Your small breath troubles the flour / I’m spilling. Did you leave sweet jam on the sill?’ The binding spell of Kiki Petrosino’s Witch Wife conjures a good belly and a mouth not too pretty to sing.”
“There’s not a poet out there who amazes and delights me more than Kiki Petrosino. In Witch Wife, Petrosino’s characteristic formal and syntactic daring becomes even more lush as she challenges both our way of hearing and making sense of our world. These poems of the body, of the ecstatic utterance that ends in grief, or glory, or the ghost’s head turning toward us, seem to me to be an essential addition to this remarkable era of poetry we are in. Petrosino helps us see not just what we want, but what it means to want so many things at once. This is a necessary book in a time of great uncertainty. It is a treasure.”
Past Praise for Kiki Petrosino:
“In Petrosino’s arias and dirges, the truth is almost always a raw and bewildering thing. That is no reason not to sing it.”
“[T]he lineage of her foremothers becomes crucial to the construction of Petrosino’s own lyric position. Her speaker uses hands “dark with craft” to subvert racial expectations and challenge the reader to ‘Come see what I’ve digged/with the teeth in my face.’”
“Kiki Petrosino is one of the few poets I know of who regularly writes poems I would call perfect.”