Collaborative poetry by Carol Guess & Rochelle Hurt championing non-motherhood and a more expansive view of womanhood/personhood
The central figure in this collaborative poetic treatise from Carol Guess and Rochelle Hurt is NonMom, representative of women who choose “not to be Mom,” or not to be defined/confined by any specific gender role. Which is to say these poems are all about agency, autonomy, and identity, topics of fierce confrontation at the moment, making this book an essential contribution to that struggle. But they also speak for all of the other nons, the nontraditional, nonconforming, nonbinary, all of the forms of otherness and queerness. Pandemic isolation finds its way into the story as well. Which makes this a book for all of us. Most of all, it’s a book about hope, of finding oneself and of findings community. “For you I imagine a body you will never have. For you I imagine my body and it is not the body I have. For you I use new words to say things I have always known but not known how to say.” In these poems, they find their voice.
Poetry. Family & Relationships. LGBTQIA+ Studies. Women's Studies.
”In BOOK OF NON, Carol Guess and Rochelle Hurt transform negation into ferocious queer agency as selves, wants, dangers, and hungers multiply in and around the lyric speaker of the NonMom. In prose poems that make the unit of the sentence feel at once intimate with epistolary tenderness and full of dread reporting harm against vulnerable bodies in a constant unfolding crisis, NonMom rejects cishet definitions and narratives applied to her: ‘My body is not a statistic….My body is not your meadow….my body will break your teeth.’ In rejection of a world that reduces people to ‘body as fill or be filled,’ these poems make the word “not” into a verb, a tool, a love letter, not to absence but to wounds and the mercy so rarely afforded to them.” —Kelly Weber, author of We Are Changed to Deer at the Broken Place & You Bury the Birds in My Pelvis
”BOOK OF NON is a feminist, collaborative tour de force of our present via negativas, including such hybrid wonders as ‘Nonfiction,’ ‘Conversation Nonstarters,’ and ‘Non-Memory Foam.’ Readers follow the recurring character NonMom through a series of encounters with the pandemic-era zeitgeist. No matter who you are, there’s something here you’ll recognize, something here to move and probe you deeply. Perhaps: ‘Most evenings now my apologies just sit quietly on the couch with me like non-apologies. It’s getting late, I say, and they crochet themselves into a nightgown big enough to drown in.’ Carol Guess and Rochelle Hurt have composed a symphony; their instruments include lyric, narrative, meditation, and critique.” —Julie Marie Wade, author of The Unrhymables: Collaborations in Prose with Denise Duhamel & Telephone: Essays in Two Voices with Brenda Miller
”BOOK OF NON is restless and raucous, randy and ready to wrestle. The book follows NonMom, but follows is too tame a word. Guess and Hurt pervert and unsettle form and perspective and the very foundation of language itself, so we’re not following NonMom—we chase, spelunk and get flung off wild horses. Both life-changing events like divorce and cross-country moves or everyday acts like texting her mom and first dates become unsettling adventures: ‘NonMom registers plenty of Me Time. Or maybe Me Too Time. It’s getting hard to tell the difference between a manicured hand and a bloody handprint.’ This collection will bring to light what terrifies you about your fragile, horny human body and bring you into a collective voice that empowers you to confront the world more boldly.” —Eric Tran, author of The Gutter Spread Guide to Prayer & Mouth, Sugar, and Smoke
Carol Guess is the author of twenty books of poetry and prose. Forthcoming books include SLEEP TIGHT SATELLITE (Tupelo Press, 2023) and Infodemic (Black Lawrence Press, 2024). A frequent collaborator, she writes across genres and illuminates historically marginalized material. In 2014 she was awarded the Philolexian Award for Distinguished Literary Achievement by Columbia University. She is Professor of English at Western Washington University.
Rochelle Hurt is a poet and essayist. She is the author of three poetry collections: The J Girls: A Reality Show (Indiana University Press, 2022), which won the Blue Light Books Prize; IN WHICH I PLAY THE RUNAWAY (Barrow Street, 2016), which won the Barrow Street Poetry Prize; and The Rusted City: A Novel in Poems (White Pine, 2014). Her work has been included in Poetry magazine and the Best New Poets anthology, and she's been awarded prizes and fellowships from Prairie Schooner, Arts & Letters, Poetry International, Vermont Studio Center, and Yaddo. She lives in Orlando and teaches in the MFA program at the University of Central Florida.