Join us on Friday, October 22 at 7pm PT when Teresa K. Miller is joined by fellow poets Roxane Beth Johnson and Jenny Qi to celebrate her collection, Borderline Fortune, at 9th Ave!
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Praise for Borderline Fortune
“The poems in Teresa K. Miller’s Borderline Fortune emphasize the greater context of our existence as individuals, as family members, and as cultures. Miller mines family as a construct, whether naturally related or collected. She interrogates relationships with the lens of a geologist, exploring the physical, chemical, and biological properties of the gravitational fields that pull us together and the elements that erode us. Several ages are explored by the poems, acknowledging the violence that must be present for eloquent transition and rebirth. The poems in Borderline Fortune are so sharply crafted, they serve as the pick and axe that dig deep into the granite of the past. Miller questions specific characters, many ghosts from the past that hold secrets to a history she is rebirthing. The poems shape a world created from the knowledge and the mythology Miller has extracted.” —Elmaz Abinader, author of This House, My Bones and cofounder of VONA
“Borderline Fortune feels like a book that was written to save oneself, to enact through poetry a means of salvation. Teresa K. Miller weaves together transcendent astonishments, precise images of the natural world, histories of horrors still present in the land, & personal revelations as intimate as bruises, weaving them into a single, entangled whole. Borderline Fortune is not a book that solves a problem, but a book that creates a net, a thing made of both solidity & gaps, open enough to be pulled through the dangers, strong enough to haul a body up to the air. This salvation happens in the reading, how the reader creates the net along with the poem, hand-in-hand, each one pulling the other to the surface, ceaselessly, with every memory of beauty & of grief. The book is a reminder that salvation is an ongoing work, for, as Miller writes, ‘In the end, there was no end.’” —Mathias Svalina, creator of the Dream Delivery Service and author of The Wine-Dark Sea
“In the sweeping expanses of Borderline Fortune, Teresa K. Miller grapples with the complexity of inheritance, the complicated legacies of family, history, and place. What created us, and what do we in turn create? How closely twined are belonging and betrayal? Here, history, identity, and the natural world meet and merge: ‘a riven nausea in the cambium, / some needle-leafed private anguish.’ Geography itself is sentient and responsive: ‘lies twine into granite, brine / into mineral creatures made of lace.’ In the end, the poems form a landscape we must immerse ourselves in, their movement as dark and unpredictable as the ocean or tectonic plates, and their story one we don’t navigate as much as survive: ‘Haul / yourself out, / one frozen leg at a time.’” —Laura Walker, author of swarm lure and psalmbook
About Borderline Fortune
A collection that explores inherited trauma on an individual and communal level, from a National Poetry Series–winning poet who “refus[es] the mind’s limits” (Carol Muske-Dukes)/
Borderline Fortune is a meditation on intangible family inheritance—of unresolved intergenerational conflicts and traumas in particular—set against the backdrop of our planetary inheritance as humans. As species go extinct and glaciers melt, Teresa K. Miller asks what we owe one another and what it means to echo one’s ancestors’ grief and fear. Drawing on her family history, from her great-grandfather’s experience as a schoolteacher on an island in the Bering Strait to her father’s untimely death, as well as her pursuit of regenerative horticulture, Miller seeks through these beautifully crafted poems to awaken from the intergenerational trance and bear witness to our current moment with clarity and attention.
About Teresa K. Miller
A graduate of Barnard College and the Mills College MFA program, Teresa K. Miller is the author of sped (Sidebrow) and Forever No Lo (Tarpaulin Sky) as well as co-editor of Food First: Selected Writings from 40 Years of Movement Building (Food First Books). Her poems and essays have appeared in ZYZZYVA, AlterNet, Entropy, DIAGRAM, and elsewhere. Originally from Seattle, she tends a mini orchard near Portland, Oregon.
About Roxane Beth Johnson
Roxane Beth Johnson is the author of the poetry collections Jubilee (Anhinga Press, chosen by Philip Levine) and Black Crow Dress (Alice James Books). A California Book Award finalist, Cave Canem poet, and Pushcart Prize winner, she has published poems in The Georgia Review, Harvard Review, ZYZZYVA, and elsewhere.
About Jenny Qi
Jenny Qi is the author of the debut poetry collection Focal Point, winner of the 2020 Steel Toe Books Poetry Award. Her essays and poems have been published widely in outlets such as The New York Times, The Atlantic, Tin House, Rattle, and ZYZZYVA, and she has received fellowships from Tin House, Omnidawn, Kearny Street Workshop, and the San Francisco Writers Grotto. Born in Pennsylvania to Chinese immigrants, she grew up mostly in Las Vegas and Nashville and now lives in San Francisco, where she completed her Ph.D. in cancer biology. At the end of graduate school, she co-founded and produced the science storytelling podcast Bone Lab Radio; she currently works in oncology competitive intelligence. She is working on more essays and poems and translating her late mother’s memoirs of the Chinese Cultural Revolution and immigration to the U.S.
A collection that explores inherited trauma on an individual and communal level, from a National Poetry Series–winning poet who “refus[es] the mind’s limits” (Carol Muske-Dukes)
These poems move forward like a novel in verse with a real understanding of the differences between the past and history. Or, as Johnson herself says in the opening poem, 'Each one is hungry for a voice & music to re-bloom.' This is a poet the best readers will be reading for the rest of their lives.--Jericho Brown
(This book cannot be returned nor exchanged.)
Winner of the 2020 Steel Toe Books Poetry Award, Focal Point is a scientist's unofficial dissertation, a daughter's faithful correspondence, and a coming-of-age story. Written largely while Jenny Qi was a young Ph.D.