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In this lush, disturbing second collection from Melissa Stein, exquisite images are salvaged from harm and survival. Set against the natural world’s violence—both ordinary and sublime—pain shines jewel-like out of these poems, illuminating what lovers and families conceal. Stein uses her gifts for persona and lyric richness to build worlds that are vivid, intricate, tough, sexy, and raw: "over and over // life slapping you in the face / till you’re newly burnished / flat-out gasping and awake." Breathless with risk and redemption, Terrible blooms shows how loss claims us and what we reclaim.
"[Melissa Stein’s] sentences are beautifully choreographed; they start and stop the motion of her poems with a nearly invisible, effortless authority."—Mark Doty
"[Stein’s] electric apprehensions throb with this nearly preverbal knowing. They are rough as a hound’s tongue. . . . Stein is a new poet of the first order."—Molly Peacock
As you slept I was thinking about the quarry,about light going deeper into earth, into rock, the hurtof light hitting layersthat should be hidden,that should be buried,and how when it rainedfor a long time that absence filledwith suffering, and we swam.
Melissa Stein’s debut collection Rough Honey won the APR/Honickman First Book Prize. She holds an MA in creative writing from the University of California at Davis, and is a freelance editor and writer in San Francisco.