Warp

Laura Bylenok

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Winner of the 2015 T. S. Eliot Prize for Poetry

Foreword Reviews’ 2015 INDIEFAB Book of the Year Award Finalist: Poetry (Adult Nonfiction)

Best Book Awards’ 2016 “Poetry” Category Award-Winner

The etymology of the word “warp” is constantly at play in Laura Bylenok’s new collection of poems, though the word almost never appears.

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Winner of the 2015 T. S. Eliot Prize for Poetry

The etymology of the word “warp” is constantly at play in Laura Bylenok’s new collection of poems, though the word almost never appears. Warp becomes an agent of the change that is central to existence, projecting through space and laying on hands. Bylenok weaves iterations of warp’s definitions through her verses like a wave, a particle, a distortion, a sigh. “I want to feel a thing, to feel / myself turn over in my fingers, / turn over in my hands / of salt, my mouth of salt.” Never obvious, Bylenok’s imagery and sounds linger. “Your signature will cover me, an x / I carry in my eyes, and on my tongue / a sip of scotch about to vaporize.” Bylenok writes important poems grounded in physicality, finding the divine in the ordinary. “In the church, I always saw her, / absentminded, touch her own hands / as if to touch something under the skin.”

Warp is a distinguished book of poems that combines imaginative verve with longing to create a rich tapestry across space and time. With a fresh command of language, demonstrated in poems that harness the vocabulary and structures of science, as well as in poems that deftly handle the more traditional sonnet and villanelle, Laura Bylenok is writing memorable lyric poetry.

Arthur Sze, 2015 T. S. Eliot Judge

What a brilliant first book this is. In Warp, Laura Bylenok makes an unending loop between word and world, art and science. Each of these beautifully woven poems is also a sound game played between writer and reader.  High wit and deep feeling make this poet’s debut one of the most exciting I’ve seen.

—Mary Jo Salter, author of Nothing by Design and Open Shutters

You could call Laura Bylenok’s Warp an extended meditation on a word, but during the course of her remarkable investigation she shows us that her word, perhaps like any other, is all but singular.  To warp word into words, even in the act of meditation, is to engage the entire multiplicity of language, all its gorgeous meanderings and torques.  Bylenok is an inveterate follower of language into wherever it leads–play, tragedy, time–and her own warpings, transmutations, and glorious reinventions ( “swoon” into “swerve”; “aurora” into “ouroboros”) show us that if language is the perpetual lens of the poet, it is always turning us into new ideas.  In these poems, play is the method, but play as serious pleasure.  Bylenok shows us again and again how, in pressuring our language, we reshape ourselves and our deepest understanding of reality.

Katharine Coles, author of The Earth Is Not Flat and Flight

Contents

CONTENTS

Wave–Particle

Genome

Lomas de Casa Blanca

Strange Loop

Nocturne with Spiral Bore

Harvest

Facts

Luz

Pseudomenon

Infinite Regress

Slip

Parallax

Young Coconut

Bitter Oranges

Mythology

Caiman

Vessel

Lullaby

Fable

Night Shift

Serenade

Rape of Electra

Theory of Simultaneity

Cosmic String

Void If

Inheritance

Love Letter

Subject

Entanglement

Elegy with Lies

Elegy with Lime

Wandering Compass

Driving After Midnight

Figure

Aubade with Peacocks

Pennies

Landscape with Uncertainty Principle

Impossible Object

If Void

Singularity

Notes

Acknowledgments

Authors

Laura Bylenok is from Seattle and holds degrees from the University of Washington and the Writing Seminars at Johns Hopkins University. Her chapbook a/0 was published by New Michigan Press in 2014, and her poetry can be found in Pleiades, North American Review, Guernica, Cimarron Review, and West Branch, among other journals. She is currently a Vice Presidential Fellow at the University of Utah, where she is pursuing a PhD in creative writing. She lives in Salt Lake City.

Visit Laura's website.

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