Two-Headed Nightingale (First Book)

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9781936970070: Two-Headed Nightingale (First Book)

Poetry. "These poems describe the outside world with a luminous grasp of detail, clarity, connection. Soon enough in every poem it seems the external world is giving way to a subtle interior of feeling and nuance. What is surprising is the command of language and music in which this occurs, and the sheer precision of both. There are pleasures on every page here, making this one of the best debut collections I have read."—Eavan Boland

"Shara Lessley has a scrupulous eye for the natural world, for the detail of memory, for the seemingly ordinary in which she often finds the surprise, the bizarre, or a painful past. In language that is sharp and clear, in forms that are disciplined by a discerning mind, she also explores the lives of liminal women and American outsiders. This is a first book you shouldn't miss."—Peter Balakian

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About the Author:

SHARA LESSLEY is a former Wallace Stegner Fellow in Poetry. Her awards include an Artist Fellowship from the State of North Carolina, the Diane Middlebrook Poetry Fellowship from the Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing, an Olive B. O’Connor Fellowship from Colgate University, The Gilman School’s Tickner Fellowship, and a “Discovery”/The Nation prize. Shara’s poems have appeared in Ploughshares, The Kenyon Review, The Southern Review, and The Missouri Review, among others. She currently lives in Amman, Jordan.

Review:

“Shara Lessley’s excellent debut poetry collection, Two-Headed Nightingale, is full of performers, both human and non-human in variety. These poems feature exhausted ballet dancers, conjoined-twin singers, and early 20th century aerialists, not to mention flocks of birds (starling, sparrow, blackbird), plates of blue mussels, and a decomposing baleen whale. It may be hard to picture a whale rotting on the ocean floor as a kind of performance, but its 'five tons of oil, sustaining / creatures by the hundreds' is oddly fitting for a collection in which people often sacrifice their own bodies in pursuit of artistry.”—Ryan Teitman, The Rumpus

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