Every Dress a Decision
Elizabeth Austen tests the boundaries between the known and the unknowable in her debut poetry collection, Every Dress a Decision.
The aftermath of a brother’s mysterious death forms a subtle narrative spine, around which other pressing questions revolve. In a voice both lyrical and wry, Austen’s poems engage headlong in the contradictions of 21st century social expectations, desires and identity.
Available in bookstores and online.
“If Elizabeth Austen is “between gods for the moment,” it’s because—gratefully!—she hovers and dances close to the vestigial, the elusive, and the transitory. She sees with a steely eye. She sings with the purest pitch. By turns tender and tough, spare and lush, these poems speak to and for the fleeting, fleeing world. An absolutely stunning and cohesive first book by a first-rate poet! Every Dress a Decision is a joy to read, and reread.
—Nance Van Winckel
“Elizabeth Austen’s poems are pellucid, interior, and powerfully original in both vision and voice. This book welcomes into our view a writer of language-substance, awake ear, and revealed—and revealing—heart.”
“Elizabeth Austen’s poems have great emotional range, formal rigor and an ambition of scope that is tempered beautifully by a considered intimacy. A poetry both luminous and grounded in the world.”
—Chris Abani, Sanctificum and Hands Washing Water
The Girl Who Goes Alone
The Girl Who Goes Alone (Floating Bridge Press, May 2010) SOLD OUT.
“Elizabeth Austen has written what just may be the modern female anthem. The title poem of her chapbook, The Girl Who Goes Alone, will take your breath away with its simplicity and truth. It is the kind of poem you want to share with your best friends and your daughters. Each poem in this slim but meaty volume is a gem, thanks to the poet’s mastery of language. Her On Punctuation should be required reading in every English class, and Her, at Two, … should be carved into the headboard of every baby girl’s crib.”
—Style Substance Soul
“Deceptively simple, this work by Elizabeth Austen, and not a false note either. All the big emotions are handled so that it seems rational to have them, to spend your life figuring them out. And it’s nothing to get crazy about. It’s life and you can discuss it, dissect it (as this poet does) and assent to the truth of how many things emotion can lead to. Simple, but not easy to attain, this form of truth telling, but it’s not new for Austen to accomplish it. She’s a fine poet and here’s the proof.”
—Eloise Klein Healy
Where Currents Meet
Where Currents Meet (part of the Toadlily Press quartet, Sightline, October 2010). An “intense sequence of poems … written just at the nexus of social obligation and the desire to simply be,” writes Molly Peacock. Listen and read sample poems here.
“…Of course, Elizabeth Austen’s poems are a pleasure to read—in her hands, the page is a marvelous place: the white wilderness where the various animals of the alphabet reveal themselves, their fine shapes, their clear and complex interrelations, and the range of epiphany their movements make possible. But it is the physical voice of the poet that reveals the invisible body of each word, the sonic body, the thing that actually touches the ear. The pleasure of Elizabeth’s poems is, surely, in their thoughtfulness, in their deceptively quiet pursuit of food worthy of the head and heart, but these poems also exist as a type of music, as the song of one person speaking carefully to another. Inasmuch as the melody beneath a phrase of blues supports and magnifies what feels true to the singer, human speech with its rises and falls, pauses and precise inflections, also adds to our grasp of what’s what to the poet. This is a truly engaging—perhaps enchanted—collection of poems, and the living fact of Elizabeth Austen’s voice is good news for the world.”
– Tim Seibles, author of Buffalo Head Solos
“…engaging poems—whose subjects range from mothers to punctuation to the habit babies have of putting everything in their mouths—are given added depth and resonance through her sensitive readings.”
– Nancy Pearl, author of Book Lust and More Book Lust