“Yes you, you chose to carve out this moment for you. No one else gets this time just for you,” chirps the onscreen calisthenic coach. It’s midnight. OUR DARK ACADEMIA’s contingent academic anti-heroine is perpetually working, trying to work it out. She’s lonely but onscreen. “I don’t feel anything at all it is so fun to be alive!” she lies. Meanwhile, is this new sensation grief or groin pull? Who’s in the waiting room? Is it too late to join the symposium? To buy organic greens? To save up? Save anything? With unsettling humor, Adrienne Raphel traces the suspect filigrees of the “late late stage”: advanced degrees, wellness trends, inherited trinketry, GIFs of inspo lynx. Sliding with formal dynamism from sonnet crown to sestina, Wiki page to personal statement, crossword to quiz, OUR DARK ACADEMIA captures the exuberant florid panicked acrobatics of this time at the edge of time.
“Nervy, deft, and shot through with gloriously manic wit, OUR DARK ACADEMIA sounds out the limits of our moral commitments in this age of intersecting global crises and ongoing precarity. In their voracious appetites, these poems trawl through Pelotons and permanent positions, Tarot decks and tattoo teeth, all while making ‘lemons out of lemonade.’ ‘I feel fine, I worry a lot / But at a distance’—would it be that worrying were always so rhythmically lush and piquant, so deeply capable of eliciting delight. OUR DARK ACADEMIA meets life’s ungovernability with wild sonic ringing and the light of this singular mind’s tragicomic connections and insights. Adrienne Raphel is a category all her own.” —Jenny Xie
“STRONG PANDEMIC ENERGY, I was saying while reading Adrienne Raphel's exquisite, frenetic poems of interchangeability and the out-of-time. Raphel's work is cerebral, melodic, and discomfiting, expertly evoking contemporary disconnection: the mad chatter of machines and the infinite loop of the one-person call-and-response. These poems feel like what it feels like to think in a time when thinking feels unthinkable.” — Natalie Shapero
“It’s strange times lately, and nowhere are they stranger than in Adrienne Raphel’s OUR DARK ACADEMIA, where all connections are unstable and the math never checks out. In this gendered dystopian world, hysterically funny—hysterical as in lol and hysterical as in wandering womb—Raphel’s voices are sharp as tacks and tough as nails. Off-rhymes pile up like hoarded soup cans, and isn’t Chrissie the Peloton instructor starting to sound a little like Samuel Beckett? Nothing is easy going, and behind a certain loveable crankiness lurks the suspicion that it might be the end of the world, but there are worse things you could do in an age of pandemic carnivalesque than load up your online shopping cart (‘Viv,’ for example, ‘is buying futures, whatever that means’) and luxuriate in Raphel’s signature madcap lyricism, which is—in the midst of anxious times—a true joy.” —Lindsay Turner
Poetry. Hybrid. Art. Literary Criticism. Women’s Studies.
Adrienne Raphel is the author of Thinking Inside the Box: Adventures with Crosswords and the Puzzling People Who Can't Live Without Them (Penguin Press); WHAT WAS IT FOR (Rescue Press, 2017), selected by Cathy Park Hong as the winner of the Black Box Poetry Prize; and OUR DARK ACADEMIA (Rescue Press, 2022). Her essays, poetry, and criticism appear in The New York Times, The New Yorker, The Paris Review, Poetry, The New Republic, and The Atlantic, among other publications.