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Book Title

The Year of What Now

Author 1
Brian Russell
Poem Excerpt
of what now
Are we the pure products   and what
Does that even mean   pure   isn’t it
Obvious   we are each our own culture
Alive with the virus that’s waiting
To unmake us.
—from “The Year of What Now”
The Year of What Now is not a book of poems about cancer. It’s not a book that wears its heart on its sleeve. It doesn’t parade the autobiographical in your face, though the conventions seem at first to be autobiography. It’s not a cry in extremis, de profundis, etc. It’s more casual, more canny, more casually well-made, more philosophically oriented. . . . This book seems to me to represent a way forward for other young poets in its wide engagement with the world, in its unabashed embrace of the personal, and its equally galvanizing skepticism about the limits of subjective speech. At its deepest level, it embodies the desire to establish true sequences of pain from the cellular level to the most abstract operations of culture, technology, and possible worlds of the spirit.”—Tom Sleigh, Bakeless Prize judge, from the Introduction

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Debut poetry by Brian Russell, winner of the Bakeless Poetry Prize

About the Author

Brian  Russell
Credit: Johnny Knight
Brian Russell is the author of The Year of What Now, winner of the 2012 Katharine Bakeless Nason Prize for Poetry, selected by Tom Sleigh and awarded by Middlebury College and the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference. Russell received an MFA from the University of Houston and served as poetry editor for Gulf Coast. He lives in Chicago.
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  • "A confessional poet is primarily asking the reader to witness, whereas a poet such as Russell—whose work employs fiction—is primarily asking the reader to imagine."—Kathleen Rooney, The Poetry Foundation
  • “These poems are quiet/frank, surprising/excellently paced, and concerned, above all else, with relatable human experience.”Harriet, Top Poetry Picks for 2013
  • “Russell is speaking to the human condition itself. . . . There is a philosophical reckoning undertaken in these poems that can’t be fully grasped in one sitting.”Rumpus
  • “[M]y heart beat fast with the first poem and through to the last. . . . [N]othing at this time seems more important than Brian Russell’s take on death.”—Washington Independent Review of Books


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, and by the generosity of Graywolf Press donors like you.
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