Winner of the Cowles Poetry Prize
Publication: October 1, 2018
House Is an Enigma is an investigation of the language used to house descriptions of the body, which so often seek to define and determine the boundaries and behaviors of the spirit that lives within. Written after Bolden’s radical hysterectomy, during which she noted her doctors’ use of house metaphors to describe her body and discuss her inability to have children, these stunning poems set out to expose the fissures in the foundations of the language we use to define human bodies and their behaviors, using these cracks as a lens through which she can see her own body, at last, as her own flawed but beautiful home.
“House Is An Enigma is a staggering achievement. These poems worry several stones in their pockets—grief and the body, certainly, rubbing both until they gleam—but also language and its deliciously endless possibilities. What can I say but that the mind whirring inside these poems, this beautiful lyric-building mind, is one I wish were housed in my own skull? What can I say but give yourself over to these poems, and if you’re very, very lucky, some of Emma Bolden’s genius may seep into you—and leave you, too, irrevocably changed.”
—Maggie Smith, author of Good Bones
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