Finishing Line Press, forthcoming 2023
Semi-finalist, New Women’s Voices Series, Finishing Line Press
Finalist, Chapbook Open Reading Period (2020 and 2021), Harbor Editions
Shortlist, 5th Annual Chapbook Contest, Thirty West Publishing House
INVASIVES achieves a rare feat for a chapbook: it not only creates a world, but it renders an entire life heart-beating through that world, propelled through nights of adolescent self-destruction, defying easy notions of virtue toward a tougher kind of grace. Vivid in both its danger and humor, risk and abandon here are channeled through deft formal execution and booming lyricism, opening up poems that deliver not only a brilliant story, but a thrilling, consuming experience. The characters and incidents intersecting this story are animated and bound together by a tenderness toward the difficulties encountered (“secrets no more than / hands changing color in cold”) as a necessity to acquire the vision and wisdom extending through these poems, like the end of a sunset under an endless Midwestern sky.
Ryan Collins, author of A New American Field Guide & Song Book
In her Invasives, Emily Kingery exposes the exposed. Dirt bags and bright girls further prove that wet is light and dirt is dark—but it’s all intimate, none of it disposable, all necessary to the story. We think we know what story that is: it’s the one we always deserved, the always that needs us in it. Never only a small town. Never just a neighbor boy. These poems inhabit a body that is all will, and willing to be more. “We had visions more necessary than eyes,” Kingery says. To visualize with her is to see, ever more clearly, how we got here.
Beth Roberts, author of Brief Moral History in Blue (New Issues Poetry & Prose) and Like You (Ottoline Prize, Fence Books)
In Emily Kingery’s Invasives, the past has a volatile life of its own: it appears and reappears, casts and recasts itself among the speaker’s present, with the power to heal as well as to poison. How do you own disorder? an early poem echoes, and this becomes our objective: How do you claim presence in a past that was dependent on your disappearance? How do you logic or language your way out of a past where logic and language were not yours in the first place? Our speaker attempts new methods of witnessing a disordered past that neither damns nor absolves: (“though it’s wrong / to say we are in mourning, even if / we are”). And the results of these attempts are gorgeous, penetrating poems, startlingly precise in their imagery, yet transcendent in scope. In a past where experiences were named and made by others, these poems now do the naming and making, slipping through a textured past at once resolved and resolutely present. Kingery’s crisp language rings in each line, making each one work like an unpredictable, alchemic ritual. What we bury, and what buries us, is never too far away from the surface, never too far away to transform our present: “We forgot to clear our histories,” Kingery’s speaker confesses. “We unsubscribed, but the seeds could keep in the soil / for a decade, longer. / They could be so hard to control.”
Gale Marie Thompson, author of Helen or My Hunger (YesYes Books) and Soldier On (Tupelo Press)