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Catalog Archive / Spring 2020

Queen in Blue

Wisconsin Poetry Series
Ronald Wallace and Sean Bishop, Series Editors

“The work of an important new voice. These poems are transcendent and haunting. The breathtaking associative, spiritual, and psychological acrobatics in this poetry are not decorative or experimental or performative. The artistry here is a magician’s. She changes us. A reader could ask no more of any collection of poems.”
—Laura Kasischke, winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award for Poetry

This gorgeous and wry debut firmly claims physical strength, toughness, and authority for femininity. The poems here speak from a place of empowerment as well as wonder. They address the insatiable fear of motherhood and the violence embedded in natural processes of creation, birth, and survival. Ambalila Hemsell’s words flicker and glow with magical realism, just as they reveal profound truths shared by the miraculous and the mundane. This lush and lyric collection artfully tackles what it means to reconcile one’s own needs and desires with those of others, and to find abundance and strength in the midst of catastrophe.

  I like the earth, how it lilts, tilts its head
  like a grackle. How it surprises you
  and how it is full of secrets. It expands
  and contracts, imprudent Alice and you
  never can get a handle on the size of her.
   —excerpt from “Mule Poetica”


Ambalila Hemsell. Photo credit, Lizzie Tilles Ambalila Hemsell is a writer, musician, and educator from Colorado. Her work has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize, and appeared in numerous publications, including Fairy Tale Review, the American Literary Review, and the Florida Review.



“Hemsell gets it. She has written an incredible debut that anyone who plans to tend to our beloveds or our beloved earth in the coming days simply must read. This is the eco-poetics we need in the world. Don’t let the beauty distract you from the call to action.”
—Danez Smith, author of Don’t Call Us Dead

“At once a splendor of lyricism and a contemplative account of lineage, otherness, and ethnicity. Hemsell’s extraordinary verbal deftness precisely locates the still-tender pains and triumphs of being a mother, a daughter, and a lover while still trying to be an individual in the world.”
—Airea D. Matthews, author of Simulacra



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Queen in Blue: Cover art of a rabbit wearing a blue, floral patterned ensemble that resembles the outfits Queens wear in traditional card decks. Similarly. the design of the cover resembles that of a card, with the rabbit queen replicated below itself, upside down. The title is also replicaed upside down on the bottom of the cover, with the Q in both 'Queen's having a blue heart underneath it.

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March 2020
LC: 2019039057 PS
120 pp. 7 x 9

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Paper $16.95 T
ISBN 9780299326647
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