by Tessa Micaela Landreau-Grasmuck
$16.00 | January 2016
Winner of the 2015 Bob Kaufman Prize
Selected by Laura Mullen
there are boxes and there is wanting: an indictment of capitalism, of the mental health industry, of our culture’s inability to deal with other sorts of ways that humans are in the world. It is also a book full of ghosts. So it is a book that shimmers and it is an unusually complicated book, but one that is graceful in its negotiations, in its refusals.
– Juliana Spahr
Necessary and impossible books are, perhaps, the most difficult to write and the most compelling to read: Danielle Collobert’s hauntingly staccato syntax in Survie (Survive), published just three months before her suicide on the day of her birth; M. NourbeSe Philip’s unearthing the ghosts of the slave ship ZONG!, their speech the texture of broken glass. And now, Tessa Micaela’s there are boxes and there is wanting. Grief, the kind that fractures your soul, sings an incantatory love song of loss in these poems, the body bent into rocking. It says, there is no language for what I am about to tell you, though I must try because in this attempt, I, and you, reader, might find some solace. there are boxes and there is wanting touches the hand of the “patient” it loves, it kisses the mouth, and pulls us into that space where mystery lives, wrapping its claws around our necks. If a wound is a stroking place, then this stroking will live with you forever.
– Dawn Lundy Martin
Where storms are stories that “cannot be pulled apart from one another,” and stories storms swirling up around “precarious” bodies (“if the body doesn’t end at the skin”)—this book: hybrid of play nonfiction and poetry. Where “at least we are dancing. at least we are not separate from one another”—this book: a description of, also a resistance to, the reduction of “the body” to “the patient.” This book: urgent attention given to the restoration of visibility in the theatrically lit stage space of a deep concern about surveillance. Intimate and performative, finding doorway after doorway, the embodied, hyper-vigilant, proposals of there are boxes and there is wanting reveal a lyric speaker who goes from particle to wave, subject to object, interior to exterior and back with extraordinary speed and fluidity, with an astonishing control and an equally impressive wildness. “when it is our turn to speak a kind of breaking happens.” This book: “any investigation of skin must start here.”
About the Author
Tessa Micaela Landreau-Grasmuck was born in Philadelphia and currently resides in Oakland with her dog, Ramona Pickle. Tessa has waited tables, bound books, worked as an abortion counselor, reproductive health educator, and birth doula, taught writing in the San Francisco county jail, studied herbalism, and carved out time to write between it all. Tessa was granted the first Community Poetics Fellowship from Mills College, where she received her MFA in 2013. Tessa is the author of the chapbook Crude Matter (ypolita press, 2015). Other writing has appeared in Make/shift, Dusie, Open House, Sink Review, and various other jars and corners. there are boxes and there is wanting is her first book.