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Why Can't It Be Tenderness

Wisconsin Poetry Series
Ronald Wallace

“Strikes just the right, clear note to place in the register of memorable debuts. Rosado's terrific new poems are salve and honey, even when the subjects of breaking and coming apart are at their beautiful core. Listen to the brilliant music of these pages.”
—Aimee Nezhukumatathil, judge, Felix Pollack Prize in Poetry

Charting a journey through schoolyards and laundromats, suburban gardens and rice paddies, yoga studios and rural highways, Michelle Brittan Rosado crafts poems that blend elegy and praise. In settings from California to Malaysian Borneo, and the wide Pacific between them, she explores themes of coming-of-age, mixed-race identity, diaspora, and cultural inheritance. With empathy for the generations past, she questions how we might navigate our history to find a way through it, still holding on to the ones we love. Like an ocean wave, these poems recede and return, with gratitude for the quotidian and for beauty found even in fragments.


Michelle Brittan Rosado Michelle Brittan Rosado is the author of Theory on Falling into a Reef, which won the inaugural Rick Campbell Chapbook Prize. Born in San Francisco, she holds an MFA in Creative Writing from California State University, Fresno, and is currently a PhD candidate in Creative Writing & Literature at the University of Southern California. Her poems have appeared in the New Yorker, Alaska Quarterly Review, Indiana Review, Poet Lore, and elsewhere.




“Exhilarating, tactile poems—embodied, rich and full. Michelle Brittan Rosado is a visionary architect building and following interior maps within intricate landscapes, creating luminous revelation and deep calm. A book like this gives you your life back.”
—Naomi Shihab Nye, author of Voices in the Air

“The sense of a divided homeland—California and Malaysia—first splits then doubles the impassioned focus of these precisely crafted, complexly braided meditations on the self and family inheritance. Psychologically searing and yet always resonant with the world's pleasures, these poems unfold as an album of belated and tender homecomings.”
—David St. John, author of The Last Troubadour: New and Selected Poems

“An intimate book that draws the world inside its discoveries, both ordinary and extraordinary. Each poem offers us miracles by which we persist beyond the surface of language itself. Luminous in craft and intelligence, here is an original voice that questions, and ultimately celebrates, the profound wonder of our survival.”
—Rachel Eliza Griffiths, author of Lighting the Shadow

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Why Can't It Be Tenderness

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November 2018
LC: 2018013161 PS
104 pp. 6 x 9

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Paper $14.95
ISBN 9780299319946
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