A Dangerous Place


Product Details

$15.95  $14.67
Sarabande Books
Publish Date
6.4 X 8.9 X 0.4 inches | 0.35 pounds

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About the Author

Chelsea B. DesAutels is a poet and educator living in Minneapolis. Her work appears in Ploughshares, Copper Nickel, Missouri Review, The Adroit Journal, Massachusetts Review, Willow Springs, Pleiades, Ninth Letter, and elsewhere. A National Poetry Series finalist, Chelsea earned her MFA from the University of Houston, where she was the recipient of the Inprint Verlaine Prize in Poetry and served as Poetry Editor of Gulf Coast. She has received support from the Anderson Center at Tower View, Vermont Studio Center, Minnesota Northwoods Writers' Conference, Community of Writers at Squaw Valley, and others. Some of the many places Chelsea has called home include South Dakota, New York, Minnesota, and Texas. In addition to her MFA, Chelsea also holds degrees from Wellesley College and the University of Minnesota Law School.


In 'Ghost Child, ' one of the poems in Chelsea B. DesAutels's debut poetry collection A Dangerous Place, she writes about a false pregnancy that turns out to be a cancer diagnosis, asking 'What kind of body prefers cancer to a child?' This parallel of growths--one hopeful, one terrifying--is a reflection of the many dualities and metaphors DesAutels explores in her work. Life itself is a 'dangerous place, ' and she is as interested in the subjects hardest to discuss as she is in the human emotions that allow us to move forward, despite them.
--Twelve Poetry Collections to Read in 2021, Chicago Review of Books

The most noticeable thing about the poems in this poet's collection is the poet sets the pace. There are poems that are frenetic, some feel like a steady gait, and some are like a slow walk sprinkled with pauses. As a reader, I appreciate this. As someone who is interested in the craft of writing, how the placement of words on a page matters, I'm in awe. The pace of the poems in this collection is as varied as the content of the poems: cancer, family, nature, religion, place (notably Minnesota vs Texas), love, and grief. I highly recommend it!
--Jennifer Wills Geraedts, bookseller at Beagle and Wolf Books & Bindery

"Right from the first pages, these poems pull us into a palpable, lush undertow of feeling. It is a place beyond words but not beyond living. This book insistently embraces possibility not as an abstraction but as a working part of the pact that the real makes with each of us. 'Of course / I always mention gratitude because / people like that ending. // And so what? Find me one person who / hasn't swallowed the past / & lost it inside the body.' These poems, finally, discover what seem to be new places inside us, new in their uncovering but not unfamiliar in our human dailiness." --Alberto RĂ­os

"Here is a book filled with the complexities and terrors of illness and motherhood, of the failures of the body and the threat of mortality--and what a graceful book it is, illuminated by eloquence and threat, and always, at center, deeply humane. Chelsea B. DesAutels is an unflinching, visceral poet, attuned to the many ways we understand our selves through the objects and people who surround us. A Dangerous Place is one of the most moving debuts I've read in years." --Kevin Prufer

"The title of Chelsea B. DesAutels's luminous first book A Dangerous Place does not exactly refer to any specific location on a map. Instead, this poet of clear-eyed ferocity shows us the danger in places familiar and unmappable--home, towns tiny and vast, and, above all, the body and the imagination. A Dangerous Place recounts the author's painfully twinned experiences of motherhood and cancer, but it is also a kind of travel guide oriented by vision, in which a womb blooms with gray moths and the self becomes a personal geology. DesAutels wields a compassion that comes from knowing that language, like life, suspends us between strength and vulnerability."--Jennifer Chang

"Danger is about power, and this surprising collection concerns itself with the destructive, the uncontrollable, and the terrifying as well as the determined, the sacred, the transformative. As the poet struggles with her disease and with the complexities of motherhood--her body described as 'more cavern than nest'--the poems fill with totems of wholeness: heron, crows, grackles, starlings, bull elk, and the keepers of life and hope, buffalo. In the central poem 'Black Hills, ' the speaker claims, 'none of us knows what to do with wonder.' I would argue DesAutels does. Like the heron, she watches, the sentinel of stillness, alert for danger and for possibilities. It's our great fortune that she shares the resulting wisdom with us."--Martha Serpas

"In A Dangerous Place, Chelsea B. DesAutels weaves together the radiant love and terror of mothering while battling a cancer that grows and morphs as mysteriously and swiftly as a newborn baby girl (and her phantom siblings). With each new American landscape and crisis, this mother's/wife's/daughter's love of self and others deepens as DesAutels's speakers find within horrific circumstances unnatural beauty. In the title poem, for example, a ravaged body becomes 'a heron disguising a large bed / in marshy grasses.' This inspired debut redefines how mercy manifests when we're looking--and especially when it seems it's nowhere to be found. In the wake of a devastating year, DesAutels's peerless innervisions reaffirm my faith in what the best poems can do for the human spirit. No doubt, you'll leave A Dangerous Place whispering, as I do each time I read it, what grace, what a triumph!"-- L. Lamar Wilson