- Expected 4 Feb 2021
'The power of McSweeney's work cannot be separated from its association with forms of oracle and soothsaying, and so it is uncanny that it should arrive in the middle of a global pandemic... Frightening and brilliant' Dan Chiasson, New Yorker
How does the body gestate grief? How does toxicity birth catastrophe?
In the months leading up to her daughter Arachne's birth, US poet Joyelle McSweeney set out to write a quiver of poems like a quiver of poison arrows: formally and sonically virtuosic, laced with the poet's obsessive concerns with contamination, decay and the sublime, featuring a crown of 'toxic sonnets' for the tuberculosis bacterium that killed Keats. But when Arachne was born with an unexpected birth defect, lived briefly and died, the poet was visited by a second welter of poems, odes of love, grief, perplexity and rage. These two books, Toxicon & Arachne, form a double collection of poems weighing love, grief, art and survival in increasingly toxic days.
Toxicon & Arachne is the culmination of eight years of engagement with lyric under a regime of global and personal catastrophes.