“[These] poems often shot shivers up my spine. Some made me cry. This is a book I’ll want to read over and over.”—Mekeel McBride, contest judge and poet
Winner of the 2015 May Sarton New Hampshire Poetry Prize
A collection of poems.
Click here for TABLE OF CONTENTS
Reviews / Endorsements
Devil's Paintbrush is a seductive, infectious surrender to all that is passionate, radiant, and mindful in life, in spite of, or perhaps because of, a world where ‘the monstrous and the beautiful / hover as one hat.’ ”—Emily Fragos, author of Hostage: New & Selected Poems
“Desirée Alvarez's poems are kith and king to those once-forgotten texts that we seem o perennially excavate from the sea or find clutched to the chest of a mummy in a newly discovered sarcophagus—suddenly here's an entire history of language that's outlived us by centuries, and we find it's come home to roost and stare us down in the present. The devil is busy in these poems, spreading the world with flowers and guns and work, but Alvarez doesn't boss her poems into trying to rid the world of this work or offer a countermand to erase it. Instead her poems meet face to face with their devils and excavate their own many histories of failed love, unspent eros, and the tormented symbols that rush in to fill these voids. These poems want their devils to do their worst and they want to live to tell about it. And now here you have it, the legend and the news, in Alvarez's debut collection.”—Danniel Schoonebeek, editor of PEN Poetry Series and author of Trébuchet
“Mythical and magical, this debut collection from painter and poet Alvarez portrays human behavior as an interconnected aspect of nature's kingdom. Alvarez slowly, steadily peels back onion-skin layers of history in order to uncover elements of the sublime. Often structuring her poems as series of declarative statements, she utilizes sharp language that never distracts from the central mood or atmosphere. She recounts history, whether personal or cultural, not with judgment or criticism, but with tenderness.” —Publishers Weekly
From the Book:
As if I did not know the secret inside the moth's
dingy wings is the blue of the cornflower.
We build our lives around the shapes.
The chair from van Gogh's bedroom,
Ensor's masks, Botticelli's diadem.
I stare at Titians' flayed faun, willing
the old master's thick brushstrokes
to be my own. I want to be fearless,
to not care about the after,
to be with the horses.
Between the wild and the mind, a long cry.
How can love replace habit as my refuge.
What we give up before beginning is dearest.
I have not been gentle enough to anything.
DESIRÉE ALVAREZ is a visual poet who weaves history and the actual with the miraculous and mythic to form magical-realist compositions addressing human interaction with the natural world. Winner of numerous awards, fellowships, and residencies (from American Academy of Arts and Letters, Poets House, and Yaddo, among others), her poems have appeared in Poetry Magazine, Boston Review, Denver Quarterly, and Prairie Schooner. She received the Glenna Luschei Award from Prairie Schooner, and the Robert D. Richardson Non-Fiction Award from Denver Quarterly. She teaches at New York City College of Technology, CUNY, and the Juilliard School. She received her MFA from School of Visual Arts and a BA from Wesleyan University.