UNTIL TENDER, the debut poetry collection of Midwest writer Sam Slupski, invites readers to join Sam for supper. Those who delve hungrily into these poems will be met with the acidic difficulty of reflecting on a tumultuous childhood, as well as the sweet buttery balm of a queer adult celebrating the love they have found. This collection of poems, essays, and recipes offers a home-cooked medley of works for any millennial raised on frozen dinners. Slupski has written what they needed to hear—as a child, as an adult, as someone with an empty bowl starving for seconds. Each reader is served a content heart, belly, and spirit, as Slupski abundantly offers nuance to their own narrative—one day, despite the salt we are born from, we can learn to lavishly enjoy good food and better company. Learning to cook is an act of love, and Slupski has copious love to give.
Poetry. LGBTQ+ Studies.
“In this spectacular debut, Sam sits joy and grief, nostalgia and the pain of memory, side by side at the dinner table. With a voice as honest as memoir, some poems glow with the warmth of belonging, and others claw out of a story begging to stay in the shadows—but Sam refuses to forget themself, and what a resounding gift this vivid remembering is. This collection is a search party for tenderness. It is a forgiveness song. It is a salve for the wounded child in each of us, and hallelujah for Sam’s brave precision. They have written a how-to manual for those of us with a dark inheritance, a lineage of bruises. These poems reframe the self, hold it tight, and show it in the good light. Like a good knife, these poems are sharp with knowing. Sam writes their history, on their terms, from their own recipe.” —Desireé Dallagiacomo, author of SINK
“Upon reading UNTIL TENDER's epigraph and the first poem alone, I knew I was in for a treat. Reader, this collection and its weighty declarative statements—like ‘I am failing to come in contact with myself’—mixed with its milking of a word or phrase for everything it can bring to the surface—like ‘I mean I miss the idea of a mother’—is exactly what you need in order to think deeply about what you come from and heal from all that has happened. UNTIL TENDER explores family, mental health, friendship, origin stories, and significant moments in the speaker’s life with rich imagery and characterization, the stuff that makes a book both hard to see and hard to put down. It is formally explorative—borrowing from things like recipes, the palinode, and the ode—while also maintaining relatability and humor, referencing evergreen phenomena like CoStar and Carly Rae Jepsen. UNTIL TENDER gave me new language for my own writings & teachings—which is to say it is a book that is sure to awaken something in you.” —KB Brookins, author of Freedom House
Sam Slupski (they/them) is a queer, nonbinary writer and creator from the Midwest. They are passionate about redefining conversations about wellness to make them accessible and inclusive, destigmatizing mental and sexual health through transformative practices, and supporting communities rooted in collective care and mutuality.
They are a freelance writer and contract social media manager, a part of the Communications Team at the St. Louis Queer+ Support Helpline, focusing on consciousness-raising, community outreach, and skill- building, and are the former Wellness Editor for Swift Wellness. They write a bi-weekly newsletter called Healing Field Notes and have an Instagram community of over 29k humans, engaging with storytelling about mental health, personal style, and homemaking.
Sam has written about a variety of vulnerable topics, including: Their experiences with vaginismus and intimacy; queerness, gender, and style; mental health and emotional healing; chronic illness and disability justice; and more. They were a finalist in the 2019 Button Poetry Chapbook Contest, headlined the Melbourne Spoken Word Poetry Festival in 2018, and have toured across the US and Canada. They love to cook and wholeheartedly believe a Midwest sunset is superior to all sunsets.