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Lisa D. Chavez

Chavez has an M.F.A. from Arizona State University. She is an Associate Professor at the Unviersity of New Mexico where she teaches Creative Writing.

In an Angry Season

In an Angry Season

"A white woman navigates her fear and uncertainty to learn the ways of the people she called savages, until she begins to dream 'in Dakota, syllables sliding / on my tongue like tender pieces of meat.' An African man, on display as a cannibal at the World’s Columbian Exposition in 1893, sees into the future: 'humiliations heaped up / as on overfilled plates . . . / . . . a country that casually / consumes its own.' A woman holds the gray-blue barrel of a gun in her mouth, 'the taste familiar / as her own blood.'

With an unexcelled command of narrative verse, Lisa Chávez tells the stories of American lives across more than a century. Whether retelling nineteenth-century captivity narratives or depicting contemporary American women confronting addiction and despair, Chávez investigates issues of identity and self-definition in the face of an often harsh and unremitting history.

Her story-poems explore the ways in which people have been made captive—whether to racism or national policy, to bad marriages or alcoholism, to poverty or emotion—from the Inuit woman birthing a son among strangers to the wife now deranged by desire for another man: 'He’s the smoky slow-burn of chipotle on the tongue. My golden idol. My gospel revival. He’s hashish sweet and languorous—my body’s one desire.'

In the end, Chávez shows us a New World of promise in which an alchemist’s assistant summons stories from stones by calling their names with 'clicks of her tongue, / syllables of silver, turquoise, and jade,' and a Native woman discovers her true power in an Alaskan bar. Passionate and political, In an Angry Season is a work of startling depth and breadth—an American history in poetry—that asks us what it means to be civilized."

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Destruction Bay

Destruction Bay

"This first collection by a talented Chicana Mestiza poet invokes her upbringing in Fairbanks, Alaska. Much of the work, some of it written as dramatic monologues, reflects her passionate interest in women’s lives; he woman who longs to escape on the late night train; the deserted woman who raises Akitas, 'good-natured killers'; the whore in the Fairbanks motel; the young widow walking home remembering her husband’s chest 'crushed like an egg' when a jack shifts. Other poems, like the title poem 'Reaching Destruction Bay,' are deeply rooted in the harsh and dramatic landscape of Alaska.

'A manuscript with diversity: romantic, brutal, political, emotional. And a wonderful, steadily yielding sense of language. Reveals a rich heritage, which she brings to the reader in powerful, generally integrated ways.'—Anya Achtenberg"

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