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Poems of the body—its truths, its failings, its landscapes. This is a collection examining gender and identity: the physical & performative, an attempt to upend & interrogate its intimacy or lack thereof.

Selected and introduced by jayy dodd.

# 25% of all sales will be donated to Action for Trans Health.

I was moved by how delicate these contemporary writers are still allowing themselves to be. I think of this anthology as intimately political. Not a blue donkey democratic fantasy, but with intention & ease I was able to choose from a swath of necessary voices. ~ jayy dodd, from their introduction

Like any good blues, A Portrait in Blues is tuned equally to the problems and pleasures of ‘the body’: the body made “a spectacle,” “in ruins,” as a thing that (thankfully) can be ripped apart because it “has never / been pastoral.” Put another way: animating this collection is the ever fraught desire to reclaim ourselves (our bodies, our desires, our identities, our imaginations) from the manifold forces that hem us in and yet are the medium in which our lives unfold. At turns mourning and defiant, meditative and frantic, these poems are for all of us who yearn for something better than the “necessary violence” of the given. ~ Cameron Awkward-Rich, author of Sympathetic Little Monster and Transit

A Portrait in Blues charts interior symphonies. What a blessed heartache to know these solitary moments; the rhythm of the breath that fills them; the way indigo pools in the crook of gender. In the poem “Self Portrait with No Lights,” Julian Randall writes, “I bite my tongue and am a dull sickle, a / blade left too long in the rain.” This poetry isn’t interested in hiding the tolls taken against limb, or the ache we are left with when the world has siphoned all that it can. A Portrait in Blues is a litany of bodies beckoning embrace and rupture in every hue imaginable. ~ Xandria Phillips, author of Reasons for Smoking (selected by Claudia Rankine)

If reading poetry is work, reading this anthology was so transformative and pleasurable, I felt like my brain and body were reborn into something much better than before. The collection starts off on an appropriate note, with the first line in Terry Abrahams’ poem, “bite / bite down hard.” It is literally the perfect way to describe not only the provocative and bold tone of all of the poems, but tells the reader how to approach the collection. Each page and poem is a gift, so much so that the world would be remiss without these words: Laura Villareal’s “Apology” (“Body, I want to bury you”) to David Ishaya Osu’s “Gunplay” (“my blood is silent”) give me the breath I need to keep breathing each day, to survive. ~ Joanna C. Valente, author of Marys of the Sea

So much of the work of this anthology is sculpture: sculpting the body, sculpting the earth, and understanding what it means to have the power of sculpture. ~ Cody Stetzel, reviewed in Glass: A Journal of Poetry

Not only is this collection geographically and typologically diverse, it also creates a portrait—in blues—of modernity’s body politic. ~ Ruan Fourie, reviewed in Laurel Magazine

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# First edition, limited print run – $12.00   $10.00