Minnie Bruce Pratt’s Crime Against Nature was the 1989 Lamont Poetry Selection from the Academy of American Poets, which recognizes a poet’s second collection of poetry. Crime Against Nature has been long out of print, until now. This new edition includes an introduction by Julie R. Enszer, a new afterword by Pratt, a reprint of Pratt’s speech at the Lamont award ceremony, photographs of Pratt and her family, and a bibliography.
"In spare and forceful language Minnie Bruce Pratt tells a moving story of loss and recuperation, discovering linkages between her own disenfranchisement and the condition of other minorities. She makes it plain, in this masterful sequence of poems, that the real crime against nature is violence and oppression.--From the Judges' Statement, Lamont Poetry Prize 1989, CRIME AGAINST NATURE
"Minnie Bruce Pratt's CRIME AGAINST NATURE is, for a number of reasons, a work at the poetic crossroads. It extends the subject of love poetry; it extends the subject of feminist and lesbian poetry; it looks in several directions through the lens of a strong, sensuous poetics, through that fusion of experience with imagination that is the core of poetry, and through cadences founded in the music of speech, tightened and drawn to an individual pitch."--Adrienne Rich
The Lamont Poetry Selection for 1989, this hard-edged and provocative collection takes its title from the Alabama statute under which Pratt ( We Say We Love Each Other ) would have faced criminal prosecution as a lesbian had she fought for legal custody of her children. The book centers on the poet's painful decision to give up her two young sons (``I paid for my freedom with my children'') and her coming to terms with a choice forced on her by an unforgiving patriarchal system. Never sentimental or histrionic, Pratt's poems deal directly and explicitly with issues of anger, shame, sexuality and injustice. Thematic concerns of self-denial, separation, loss and the mother-child relationship are powerfully reinforced by recurring images of a ``splintered'' and ``divided'' self and Pratt's fragmentary narratives. By staying true to her lesbian identity, she earns the respect and love of her sons, who, although not in her custody, are not alienated from her. Here Pratt is finally able to tell her ``version'' and, ultimately, see herself not as victim but victor: ``In my version, I walk / to where I want to live.''