Black River Chapbook Competition winner, Lucy Wainger, is a portrait of adolescent mental illness at the end of history.
IN LIFE THERE ARE MANY THINGS is a portrait of adolescent mental illness after the end of history: “I have / this body— / residue—and I don’t know what / left it.” This chapbook’s unmoored speakers seek, alternately, to root themselves more firmly in the world and to exit it entirely. Autobiography and allegory merge to track the inexplicable shapeshifting of the self as it ages, heals, dies, and lives again.
“Lucy Wainger is a brilliant poet whose ability to follow the visceral logic of her electrified imagination leads to lines so bright I want to eat them. She dazzles me with her deadpan humor and breaks my heart with her sudden utterances of love or hurt. While these poems are skillful and intelligent, they also give a feeling of guilelessness, the wild and askew openness children know and are taught to forget. Wainger is in touch with ungovernable forces. The lines she pulls down onto the page are virtually humming with energy; it is possible that when you read them you will produce sparks from your fingers and tongue.” —Heather Christle
“Reader, I envy you: you’re about to meet Lucy Wainger and read her work for the first time. Wainger is obsessed with the way the largest questions in the world—what it means to be human, how we cope with embodiment, how we respond when in danger, how we shift and morph as we experience the passage of time, how we realize we love life and how we bear it when we don’t—can feel achingly specific and material, like a ‘big red cut shaped like a fingernail’ or ‘the smell of flapping fins and failing gills.’ Whether Wainger is inhabiting a persona—which include Scheherazade and Teen Wolf, among others—or wielding her ‘I,’ which is at once relentlessly contemporary, Gothic, and pastoral, you always have a sense that you are sharing a world with her and her speakers, so close to them that the juice that ‘spurts’ from their oranges may well also get on you as you read. I am so jealous that you get to experience In Life There Are Many Things freshly, although I know that even after you’ve read it, every subsequent encounter with this relentlessly curious, seeking, and dynamic chapbook will always feel like a fresh experience, no matter how many times it has already stood in front of you and asked, ‘What else do you remember?’” —Sumita Chakraborty
Lucy Wainger grew up in New York City. Her poems have appeared in Best American Poetry, DIAGRAM, The Journal, The Margins, Poetry, Puerto del Sol, and elsewhere. She's currently an MFA candidate at UMass Amherst, where she teaches composition and creative writing. IN LIFE THERE ARE MANY THINGS is her first chapbook.