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Book Title

Removal Acts

Author 1
Erin Marie Lynch
Poem Excerpt
On the other side
of self-recognition
lies a secret
undulating form
that has followed me
for generations
I desire
to become
By heart
By heart
By heart
—from “00000000”
Drawing its title from the 1863 Federal Act that banished the Dakota people from their homelands, this remarkable debut collection reckons with the present-day repercussions of historical violence. Through an array of brief lyrics, visual forms, chronologies, and sequences, these virtuosic poems trace a path through the labyrinth of distances and absences haunting the American colonial experiment.
Removal Acts takes its speaker’s fraught methods of accessing the past as both subject and material: family photos, the fragile artifacts of primary documents, and the digital abyss of web browsers and word processors. Alongside studies of two of her Dakota ancestors, Lynch has assembled an intimate record of recovery from bulimia, insisting that self-erasure cannot be separated from the erasures of genocide. In these rigorous, scrutinizing examinations of “removal” in its many forms—as physical displacement, archival absence, Whiteness, and vomit—Lynch has crafted a harrowing portrait of the entwined relationship between the personal and historical. The result is a powerful affirmation of resilience and resolute presence in the face of eradication.

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A remarkable debut exploring the silences left by displacement—of a people, of a lineage, and of the self

About the Author

Erin Marie Lynch
Credit: Jonathan Chaco´n
Erin Marie Lynch is a PhD candidate in Creative Writing and Literature at the University of Southern California. Her writing appears in Gulf Coast, DIAGRAM, Best New Poets, and elsewhere.
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  • "Erin Marie Lynch has crafted a triumph in Removal Acts. [...] We are asked to sit with ideas of privilege, generational trauma, personal desire, and forms of guilt as Lynch constructs her world around us."—Abigail Hebert, October Hill Magazine
  • "By compiling absences, silences, and censures, Lynch exposes the colossal scale of settler violence on the American continent. She wields punctuation marks—brackets, arrows, and spaces—like weapons."—Janani Ambikapathy, Harriet
  • "Lynch interweaves the stories of two of her ancestors with her own recovery from bulimia to explore the twinned legacies of historical and self erasure. The result is a moving meditation on 'removal' in its many forms that melds together the personal and historical to craft a testament to Indigenous resilience and survival in the face of eradication."—Eliza Browning, Electric Literature
  • "In this sharp debut, words are bracketed and struck through, placed in columns and alongside arrows. . . . With each deliberate letter, Lynch deconstructs a violent past and present, while allowing herself and the reader to search for paths toward an as-yet unknown future."—Dasia Moore, The Boston Globe
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