Philomath: Poems


Product Details

$16.00  $14.88
Milkweed Editions
Publish Date
6.3 X 8.27 X 0.55 inches | 0.4 pounds

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About the Author

Devon Walker-Figueroa is the author of Philomath, selected for the 2020 National Poetry Series by Sally Keith. Originally from Kings Valley, a ghost town in the Oregon Coast Range, she is a graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop and the 2018 recipient of the New England Review's Emerging Writer Award. Her poems have appeared in such publications as The Nation, POETRY, the American Poetry Review, Lana Turner, and Ploughshares.


"A resounding debut collection. You don't need to have to come from a town like Philomath to savor this nuanced book, yet equally, you won't forget Philomath after you've read it, and you'll find yourself returning to its pages--to its city limits, to its ghosts, to its magical refrains--repeatedly." --Chicago Review of Books

"A narrative coming-of-age poetry collection laced with searing imagery and gut-punch single-line revelations." --Portland Mercury

"Devon Walker-Figueroa's Philomath reimagines King's Valley, OR--where the author grew up, now a ghost town--in all its beauty and discordance." --Library Journal

"Guiding readers from places near as the eponymous Oregon town and far as Florence, Italy, Walker-Figueroa's sure hand on her subjects never wavers, forging new paths with a confidence that feels preternatural." --Chicago Review of Books, "Must-Read Books of September 2021"

"Walker-Figueroa's work is powerful, at times mysterious, and a thrilling study of memory, time and events both quotidian and historic . . . Philomath is sure to be a notable debut." --Chicago Review of Books, "Twelve Poetry Collections to Read in 2021"

"Philomath, Ore., is the setting for this gritty but lyric noir, where locals live and fight against their environment, be it the settled ghost town or the decaying natural world . . . These sharply observed poems imbue its portrait of place with wit and electricity." --Publishers Weekly

"As with all good place-based writing, Philomath is more than pastoral; it is intensely personal and intimate with its surroundings. Walker-Figueroa demonstrates that a place is more than its ecosystem and infrastructure. More than anything else, it is its people." --Cleveland Review of Books

"Devon Walker-Walker-Figueroa is that rare being--a poet who is both a brilliantly heartrending lyricist and a scathingly precise portraitist; a poet who experiments with the forms of verse, and a natural-born storyteller whose sympathy for the vividly rendered residents of Philomath recalls the Tilbury Town of Edwin Arlington Robinson and the Winesburg, Ohio of Sherwood Anderson. This is poetry throwing off sparks with the élan of Ai, Raymond Carver, and Sharon Olds--though Walker-Figueroa is a totally original voice."--Joyce Carol Oates

"This is 'the sound of becoming, ' 'every you also/ a me.' This is the haunted Northwest, its 'trespasses/ unwittingly made.' This is the poet who knows all about 'a harp with forty strings of gut/ and one of gold, ' who has turned that harp from agony to harmony with the songs of her childhood and teens. These are the steers and the steering and the wrong turns and the turnings of a verse so modern that its reverses point into the future and all the way back past The Mill on the Floss; these are the memories, the parables, 'the closest/ you can get to civilization out here, ' as if we did not have to civilize ourselves, as if this poet and her music could not take us 'Out of Body, ' out of the ghost town called Bodie, out of a scary family history, out of martyrdom, out of time. It's a tome against self-erasure, for recollection, for staying and moving on and even thriving where so many have already fallen." --Stephanie Burt

"I couldn't be more delighted than to have found Walker-Figueroa's Philomath. Philomath is a place, a small town in Kings Valley, Oregon. Here, the neighbor eats locusts and every daughter is blonde. If one of the book's motives is 'Find[ing] a way out of this valley named for a family so dead / everyone calls them Kings, ' the means is music. There is a harp, a violin, Gregorian chants, and hymns, but what drew me in was the music of the sentence, of the poetic line. One truly senses a poet trying to hear the world around her, in all of its trouble, complexity and joy. If whatever it means 'to become' has a sound, Devon Walker-Figueroa can hear it, 'the way a blood's fever can outlast the mind's.'"--Sally Keith

"Humming, whirring, and burning with ghosts, prayer, and grief, Devon Walker-Figueroa's incandescent Philomath--lit by loss and longing, and radiant with intelligence--is ablaze."--Robyn Schiff

"In Philomath, Devon Walker-Figueroa, with rare insight, writes an America so absolutely American it has been forgotten by America, an America so American one can't believe it exists unless one has lived there, and if one has lived there one recognizes it everywhere. Walker-Figueroa sees not only beyond our ideas about ourselves, but all the way to us being ourselves. Hers are the truest poems being written."--Shane McCrae

"I am not typically drawn to poetry--but I fell in love with the cover of Philomath instantly. And then, of course, I had to investigate the pages! Wow . . . such beautiful words. Such anger, sadness, joy, hunger, hope, defeat, and overcoming. I won't even try to explain its basis. Just read this lovely homage to memory and home and the future for yourself, and you'll see what I mean." --Linda Bond, Auntie's Bookstore