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Stefanie Kirby's moving chapbook Fruitful explores the tragedy of pregnancy loss and motherhood in surreal, artful, compact poems that both chronicle and expand our understanding of the wombed body.

“Stefanie Kirby’s Fruitful is a remarkable lyric sequence about raising children during a pregnancy and subsequent miscarriage. If Chekhov advised that fraught subject matter be written ‘somewhat colder,’ then these expertly-crafted poems must have been written at absolute zero in Kelvin. The effect is a kind of creeping dread that increases with every line we read. A singular imagination, Kirby creates a new world, a world of intimate pain where ‘a wolf made of bees, the fur a soft buzz,’ follows the speaker whose ‘milk rings itself like an ocean” and whose ‘womb stacks / itself into cold, / neat cubes on / the linoleum.’ This poetry just contains the unbearable—though contain it must—for ‘to go under again would be to drown.’”

Carolyn Hembree, 

author of For Today

“In Fruitful, Stefanie Kirby takes the reader into an utterly distinct, even unnerving, world. Her poetry conjures the womb as an originary site that expands beyond the biological into the geologic and even the cosmic. These gorgeous poems enact a kind of embodied surrealism in which familiar objects constantly morph—from uterus to keys to chain link fence to spade to tidal flood to a harvest brought in from outdoors—and that within a single poem! Despite the rich energy of image and word, Kirby confesses, ‘I can tell this so many ways/but it always ends with loss, in a body that wants to be full.’ Visceral, urgent, and startling, this is truly a body of work actively laboring, breaking open. Lyric necessity overtakes even desire: ‘what’s left/but to yield/unfold/in green’ where the soil lies ready and ‘cracks with need.’”

— Elizabeth Robinson, 

author of Rumor

Cover Artist: Jan van Kessel

Cover Designer: Sally Franckowiak

Stefanie Kirby lives and writes along Colorado’s Front Range. Her poems appear in The Cincinnati Review, The Massachusetts Review, The Maine Review, SAND, Poet Lore, and Wildness, among others, and have been nominated for the Pushcart Prize, Best New Poets, and Best of the Net.

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Poetry Chapbook


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