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Catalog Archive / Spring 2022

Girl’s Guide to Leaving

Wisconsin Poetry Series
Ronald Wallace and Sean Bishop, Series Editors

Winner, Writers' League of Texas Poetry Book Award

“A folklore troubadour, Villareal ably unfolds a path through memory. Running wild and running home, this guide isn’t just for leaving but rather for making space in sites where one can ‘witness local miracles’ or to tell a heroine’s story without remorse. This is a rangy and ambitious book.”
—Carmen Giménez Smith

“Fanged and feathered,” Laura Villareal fights against expectations imbedded in her existence—the expectations bound in being a woman, being queer, being Latinx—and claws her way to her own identity. Her poetry covers a vast range, invoking Mexican folklore, exploring the process of healing while hurting, and the complicated conflict between intergenerational trauma and the love of family—continuously reasserting that leaving is never a singular action, that healing isn’t completed in a day, that living is a process, not a straight line.

Tumbleweeds and wandering cacti litter the page, coyotes croon at the prose. In poems haunted by specters of intimate partner violence, Girl’s Guide to Leaving considers what it means to escape the love that trapped you and find a temporary home in the barely cooled ashes of a wildfire.

listen this part is important
you must never let yourself try & find the first place
you took root you must live like a tumbleweed
you must never call out into the desert blue night
but you will anyways I know this you’ll cry out
as the coyotes do weep
—Excerpt from “Desert Note”


Laura Villareal. Laura Villareal is a 2019–21 National Book Critics Circle Emerging Fellow, a 2020–21 Stadler Fellow, and the author of the chapbook The Cartography of Sleep. She works on an interview series at F(r)iction called “Writers Talking about Anything but Writing.” Her work has appeared in AGNI, Grist, Black Warrior Review, Waxwing, and elsewhere.




“Formally diverse, this collection wants to “tell you all hearts find good homes eventually” while moving through contrapuntals, prose blocks, and open field poems that articulate anything but statis, that articulate that perhaps the place we will find the most comfort for our hearts is in the act of forward motion, in the act of leaving.”
—Chet’la Sebree

“Laura Villareal’s full-length debut rests upon the slow healing of myth-making, the retrospective balming of injury to lore. Grief is guarded in secret like a torn photograph in your shirt pocket. Leaving—a ritual ripe with a yearning to outrun the predatory stride of memory. Every escape charts new cartographies—away from homes that shelve your “whole self away / in the garage or attic,” smell of “Diesel cologne, brass & birdshot,” and towards a body habitable by your tenderest of parts. Girl’s Guide To Leaving moves through the curative wisdom of transit, unrestrained in its desire to flee and toss a lit match behind it.”
—Ana Portnoy Brimmer, author of To Love An Island

“Laura Villareal’s future shines bright if her debut full-length collection, Girl’s Guide to Leaving (University of Wisconsin Press), is anything to judge her by. Villareal’s poems are full of longing and letting go of one’s loves and expectations around relationships, family, and culture. She wraps the rich tapestry of her inherited Mexican folklore around each poem, reinventing the speaker, the story, and the land in the process.”
Washington Independent Review of Books



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Girl's Guide to Leaving: cover depicting a painting of a woman with five fully black eyes and four arms, holding the the sun in one hand, a spoon in another, and a paintbrush in another. She stands before some trees in a dark forest. Many other detils give this piece an eclectic and haunted feeling.

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April 2022
LC: 2021038185 PS
80 pp. 7 x 9

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Paper $16.95
ISBN 9780299336844
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