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Book Title

Mother Desert

Author 1
Jo Sarzotti
I have learned three things in the north:
The sea has a lung,
The dead do not eat grass, nor
Do they return.
—from “The Origin of Salt”   In these poems, Jo Sarzotti portrays a personal geography ranging from the desert of the title to the far north, from the mother to the father. In between are found ocean floor, mountain peak, jungle, beach, ancient and modern cities, as well as animal and human companions, including the famous or notorious. With emotional clarity and beauty, Sarzotti's debut is uncompromising in its craft and evocative in its imagistic power.  

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Winner of the 2011 Bakeless Prize for Poetry, the debut collection by Jo Sarzotti

About the Author

Jo  Sarzotti
Credit: Michael Parmelee Photography
Jo Sarzotti, author of Mother Desert, is the winner of the 2011 Katharine Bakeless Nason Prize for Poetry, selected by Carl Phillips and awarded by Middlebury College and the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference. She lives in New York City and teaches at The Juilliard School.

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  • “Sarzotti transforms the things of this world into sensations, and anyone who has ever appreciated memory as an imaginative act will find much of interest here.”—Library Journal
  • “Jo Sarzotti’s debut collection, Mother Desert, is composed of poems that reflect and then shatter the assumptions of the given world.”—The Literary Review
  • “[Mother Desert] is mysterious, distant, partly submerged, yet hauntingly familiar and, ultimately, revelatory.”—Third Coast
  • Mother Desert is a debut that is provocative, thoughtful, and starkly beautiful.”—The Pinch Journal 


This book is made possible, in part, through the Katharine Bakeless Nason Prize, awarded by the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference of Middlebury College in support of emerging writers. It is also made possible by the Jerome Foundation, which supports new works by emerging artists in New York City and Minnesota, and by the generosity of Graywolf Press donors like you.
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