like an angel dead in your arms is the long out-of-print debut poetry collection by luke kurtis. Published in 2000 just before the author’s twenty-first birthday, it reflected a young writer still developing his voice. The semi-autobiographical poems describe a time of great transformation for the poet as he carved out a life in New York City after growing up in rural Georgia, where he was outcast by his family for being gay. Most of the works were written while still living on his family’s farm, others after he moved to Greenwich Village. This collection straddles those worlds and the poet’s transition between them as well as much of the United States, with other poems written during his travels across the country from Boston and Chicago to Los Angeles and San Francisco. Despite such geographic diversity, the focus is pointedly inward as kurtis grappled with those tumultuous years of his life and his struggles with family, sexuality, and religion.
This new edition includes all of the original poems, some lightly edited by the poet to improve a phrase here or remove a word there. But the text remains otherwise unaltered. A selection of other poems from the same period makes up the second half of the book. Many of these works, having never been published before, were recomposed by the poet while in quarantine in 2020 to better capture his original intent. They, therefore, reflect the more mature and minimal style of his recent works. The text, nonetheless, remains thoroughly grounded in the era it represents.
Photographs have also been added. Several of the photos were intended to be part of the original collection, but they were unable to be included. All of them were made by the poet around the same time as the poems were written. This twentieth anniversary expanded edition of like an angel dead in your arms is a look back at the roots of kurtis’s unique and diverse body of work.