cover image Stella Hayes

Stella Hayes

One Strange Country. What, $15.95 trade paper (92p) ISBN 978-0-9889248-9-5

Hayes’s restless and searching debut addresses the pain and disorientation of assimilation alongside the comforts of family. In three sections, these poems jump between locations in Europe and the United States, as if unable to settle too long in any place: “I was invaded/ by dry sickly heat of either Utah or Arizona./ The desert held in its teeth, like a lizard/ or a mountain mouse.” In the ghazal “Don’t Tell the Women,” she repeats the word unrequited, building a collage of one-sided imaginings: “I am lost to distance, quietly weaving a carpet./ Loom with me a fugue made of love threads, unrequited.// Don’t tell the women, the moon & sun will be hushed./ Put into place, for an uncertain life, unrequited.” Meditations about Hayes’s displaced mother and poems on her sister (a painter) are emotionally resonant and insightful: “To your discomfort she paints without artifice/ Her small knife cutting in the parts/ Of you she believes conceal.” This debut provides an honest and moving tribute to the immigrant experience. (Nov.)