Winner of the Fourth Annual Marystina Santiestevan First Book Prize
A deft reimagination of the fable, THE BIRTHDAY OF THE DEAD is dark, rich, and immediately accessible, capable of conjuring tears, laughs, and both earth-shattering and life-affirming revelations. Selected by Bob Hicok, THE BIRTHDAY OF THE DEAD won the fourth annual Marystina Santiestevan First Book Prize.
“In lyrics “smooth as doves,” Rachel Abramowitz sings of our fallen world, its forgotten seedpods and smoldering fires, and the terrible, steaming coats of ancient wolves, unearthed from glacier-melt. These haunting poems witness the kinetic ever-presence of the dead: “their tentacles curl and wave, tighten and drop” until “[t]here is nothing to be done.” Still, Abramowitz’s keen poetic intelligence finds wonder in the luminosity of the moon, in dew drops and foxgloves, and in the “rich scraps” of wisdom salvaged, as if by magic, from grief’s edge. The Birthday of the Dead is a work of astonishment and pure energy.”
- Kiki Petrosino
"Are there two kinds of people – those who’d run from a book of poems that begins with the severed head of a wolf and those who’d eagerly turn the page? I think there’s one kind of person who should read this book for the joy of unsmall rabbits at dusk and endless rivers that end at the bottom of the sea and giraffes that dare for the upper leaf: you. After which your life will be divided into before and after Rachel Abramowitz’s poems.”
- Bob Hicok
"My heart," writes Rachel Abramowitz," is a black / hut where the moon gets in through a hole / no bigger than a dime." In this searing first book, we enter her world the same way that moonlight does, only to find poems as intricate as they are gorgeous, and as sinister and piercing as they are open-hearted. Nobody alive writes like Rachel Abramowitz, and The Birthday of the Dead is one of those debuts you shudder to have stumbled upon."
- Joshua Marie Wilkinson.
Rachel Abramowitz is the author of the chapbooks The Puzzle Monster, winner of the 2021 Tomaz Salamun prize (forthcoming from Factory Hollow Press in 2022), and Gut Lust, the winner of the 2019 Burnside Review prize (Burnside Review Press, 2020). Her poems and reviews have appeared in Tin House Online, The Threepenny Review, Seneca Review, The Kenyon Review Online, Crazyhorse, Tupelo Quarterly, Prelude, Oxonian Review, POOL, jubilat, Sprung Formal, Transom, Colorado Review, and others. She is a graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop and the University of Oxford, and has taught English Literature at Barnard College in New York.