Paperback Price: $9.95
Paperback ISBN: 978-1882295173


Selected Poem

Human Nature

When someone presses his mouth to mine, I don't hesitate,
I open my lips. But doesn't this willingness
to give myself over look as much like sacrifice
as anything, and only Jesus,
with his heart the size of God's fist, could manage that
and not be plagued. I might ask
those summering geese, white
to the very tips of their feathers, who rise up
and don't care about pleasure they give – that's not a gift
but their nature, like Nietzsche's birds of prey
who love lambs with their appetites. What if my nature
is to love indiscriminately and with reckless
prodigal haste? What if wired into me, part of the helical
strands of code that made my hair brown and my elbows
bony, is the kiss? When the wheels of their migratory clocks
shift gears, the geese will deafen the air but I'll remain
without instinct or sense, burying my face
in a stranger's neck, as if the sole condition
for my love is that it be accepted and I crave
the jangled heart beating itself
into a frenzy and something tangible
to focus on: the insistent tongue, the hard as nails teeth
which lie just beyond the lips and are as white
as the geese and almost as startling.
The hardest task is to endure. Think of Peter:
when the cock crowed and Jesus looked at him with compassion
and no reproach, he ran. But what I need
is a story that springs from a purely human nature
and teaches good and suitable devotion.
For what myth can explain the blind earnestness
with which I hold out my best part to a lover whose gaze
is turned inward, whose feathers are damp
and already shifting beneath my hand

The Way Out


“In her collection, The Way Out, Lisa Sewell grapples with metaphorical and literal hungers with a magnetic density. Frank Bidart writes that Sewell offers a ‘terrible purity’ fashioned out of the ‘desolation’ her poems work through, poems with ‘great weight and power.’ I concur. We encounter an intelligent, elegant, darkly honest poet who feeds our eyes, ears, mind, and heart.”
Colorado Review

“Sewell searches for what lies beneath her own humanity: her capacity for violence and love; what one’s ‘nature’ determines about oneself; and how the mind and spirit can exist willingly with the ‘knowledge that we are hopelessly enclosed / by the measure of our skins.’ . . . Sewell’s debut collection The Way Out, is a very fine read.”
Quarterly West

“There’s a terrible purity to the desolation from which many of these poems emerge. They emerge with unlacquered finality. Their gaze is pitiless. Cumulatively, Sewell’s poems possess great weight and power. In this ferocious book you will find the consolation of something seen deeply, the consolations of art.”
—Frank Bidart

“Lisa Sewell’s poetry brings to mind Keats’ phrase, ‘thinking through the heart.’ More than any young poet writing today, her work frames an urgency shot through with history as she builds a model of consciousness, original, strange. These poems enact a lyric muscle that explodes narrative, throws it wonderfully off track into new regions of feeling, thought, experience.”
—Deborah Digges

“‘We are hopelessly enclosed by the measure of our skins,’ Lisa Sewell writes. The argument at the heart of this book is whether the body is a source of hopelessness or of hope. ‘I put my faith in the physical,’ Sewell tells us, but she understands how belief necessitates doubt, only exsisting beside it. Focused and accomplished, this fine debut collection is a fierce and engaging quarrel with the fact of flesh.”
—Mark Doty

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