cover image Half-Hazard


Kristen Tracy. Graywolf, $16 trade paper (88p) ISBN 978-1-55597-822-8

Tracy, a prolific author of tween and teen fiction, debuts in verse with an irresistible collection selected for the Poetry Foundation’s Emily Dickinson First Book Award. These energetic poems showcase a writer who knows how to draw readers in—with short sentences, quick turns, and a comic edge that courts disaster. Tracy opens with an escape from a religious upbringing: “I fell from a Bible. A half-blonde tease./ With a good good start, I struck out/ God-filled and thrilled.” She recounts spotting a former coworker having sex in the cooler, admitting that “Tight-assed and aging. Beholden// only to her own climb and joy. It took me years/ to admire exactly what she’d done.” Animals are ever-present across a variety of settings (zoo, circus, yard, canyon) and in visceral encounters that would rewrite the scripts of captivity and danger. For example, the tiger at the magic show “could lead a completely different life if it stopped/ being so good at performing.” The title poem, a wacky villanelle about the putting a girl on the moon, amusingly presumes she would be safer there than on Earth: “Does a girl who lacks parties turn blue in pitch black?/ Dangers here. Perils there. It’ll go how it goes.” Readers should feel refreshed by Tracy’s enjoyable turn to the lyric. Agent: Sara Crowe, Pippin Properties. (Nov.)