In Michele Poulos’s exquisite and haunting debut collection, Black Laurel, intimate elegiac gestures honor landscapes and individuals we have lost to history. Resonant and oracular, her poems travel the world, from New Orleans to Greece and beyond, as they invoke both ancient and contemporary cultures in charting those losses, which include the ravaging wars that have become our common weather and our constant mourning. Often, the shifting stages of experience find their elegant resolution in the landscapes of the natural world—even as the women who speak in these disquieting poems continue to call out to us from our past and future ruins.

                                                                           --David St. John, author of The Auroras

The poems in Black Laurel are superbly crafted, full of surprising turns and imagery that deliver what Emerson called “shock-pleasure.”  Poulos has a remarkable range, elegant, searing, playful, and gives us poems that bear witness to the resilience of the human spirit as well as to the intimacies of memory where “the sound of an almond dropped in a well” might be mistaken for “whatever follows weeping.” As delicate as it is fierce, Black Laurel is an impressive first book.

                                                      --Beckian Fritz Goldberg, author of Reliquary Fever

Michele Poulos’s new volume of poems, Black Laurel, moves across highly original and arcing images that are brilliantly edged while relaying heavy emotions throughout the body of the poem. This circulation of things seen and felt reminds me of the Romantics’ earliest ambitions for poetry. A fabulous book!

                                                   --Norman Dubie, author of The Quotations of Bone

Michele Poulos


Early in Black Laurel, Michele Poulos’s splendid new collection, there is a letter-poem addressed to a Greek hero of World War II that affirms, “If you must gaze unflinchingly / down the well of a gun, you’ll do it.” Such courageous regard characterizes Poulos’s own eye in poems that range in focus from the sad and violent history of the century to heart-wrenching personal loss (as well as heart-stopping new love!). These poems capture insight like koans: Beauty is the ruin a city can no longer witness, to give one example, or, Pain is a mind that refuses a new face. Here’s pitch perfect and bold lyricism in a poetry struck by vision as capacious as Dickinson’s. Black Laurel is a collection to savor and Michele Poulos is a poet to watch.

                                                                         --Cynthia Hogue, author of Revenance

* Poulos, along with poet Gregory Donovan, is currently submitting Prismatics: Larry Levis and Contemporary American Poetry, a book of transcriptions from interviews from the film A Late Style of Fire, for publication.  

* Poulos is currently editing her memoir In the Pink: Confessions of a Badass NICU Baby Cuddler and is writing an as-yet-untitled sequel.

* Also in the works: a YA novel told from multiple perspectives.