cover of book

High Ground Coward
by Alicia Mountain
University of Iowa Press, 2018
eISBN: 978-1-60938-546-0 | Paper: 978-1-60938-545-3
Library of Congress Classification PS3613.O857A6 2018
Dewey Decimal Classification 811.6


Alicia Mountain’s urgent and astonishing debut collection maps a new queer landscape through terrain alive and sensual, defiant and inviting. With a voice that beckons while it howls, Mountain nimbly traverses lyric, confessional, and narrative modes, leaving groundbreaking tracks for us to follow. High Ground Coward offers fists full of soil, leftovers for breakfast, road trip as ritual, twins of lovers and twins of ourselves. This world blooms with hunger-inducing detail, its speakers asking us to consider what it will take to satisfy our own appetites while simultaneously trying to nourish one another. “Ferocious, even the softest part,” Mountain shows us “a way to fall in love with wanting,” leaving us “ravenous, but gradually.”

Bearing witness to identity formation in solitude and communion, High Ground Coward is an almanac of emotional and relational seasons. Mountain’s speakers question the meaning of inheritance, illness, violence, mythology, and family architecture. Whether Mountain is at work revealing the divinity of doubt, the entanglement of devotion, or the dominion that place holds over us, High Ground Coward heralds a thrilling poetic debut.


From “Scavenger” 

We three eat food and are in love. This is the easy way to say 

there are stores beneath the floor. 

Potatoes and shallots, 

hard-necked garlic streaked purple, 

jars beside jars, themselves 

each staving globes of suction. 

Preservation, a guardian hunger. 

In the evening I whisper to the boiled beet, 

like a naked organ in my flushed hand: 

You are ground blood, 

you are new born, 

you have never been nothing— 

thawfruit seedflower greenstart rootbulb 

handpull shedscrub mouthsweet 

and again. 

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