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Catechesis: A Postpastoral
by Lindsay Lusby
University of Utah Press, 2019
Paper: 978-1-60781-697-3 | eISBN: 978-1-60781-698-0
Library of Congress Classification PS3612.U778A6 2019
Dewey Decimal Classification 811.6

Winner of the 2018 Agha Shahid Ali Prize in Poetry

“A girl has two choices: / to be a tree or / to be the forest.” Catechesis combines Grimm fairy tales with horror movies and the Book of Revelation to construct a vision of the dangers and apocalyptic transformations inherent in girlhood. This lyric lore, which includes curious diagrams and collages of the botanical and the anatomical, contains hidden instructions to prepare girls for the hazards ahead.

In retelling lore alongside other Grimm-style stories, the poet turns horror classics The Silence of the Lambs and Alien into macabre fairy tales in their own right. Herein lurks violence and decay, but also a wild, overgrown beauty. Mothers and fathers are as much a part of this treacherous landscape as the carnivorous flora and shape-shifting fauna—and their effects are just as devastating. Framing all of this within biblical language and motifs gives these fabulist poems an ominous sense of urgency. Catechesis is a hybrid collection of textual and visual poems that examine belief and obsession. It explores how beauty leads to danger and danger births another kind of beauty, in a cycle of creation and destruction.

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