Psalms of Unknowing: Poems


Product Details

$16.99  $15.80
Monkfish Book Publishing
Publish Date
6.0 X 9.0 X 0.22 inches | 0.32 pounds

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About the Author

Heather Lanier is the author of two award-winning poetry chapbooks along with the memoir, Raising a Rare Girl, a New York Times Book Review Editors' Choice and a Malcolm Gladwell Next Big Idea Book Nominee. She writes at the intersections of spirituality, motherhood, and feminism, and her writing has appeared in The Atlantic, The Wall Street Journal, The Sun, TIME, Poets & Writers Magazine, Longreads, and elsewhere. Her essays have twice been noted in The Best American Essays Series, and her TED Talk, "'Good' and 'Bad' are Incomplete Stories We Tell Ourselves," has been viewed nearly three million times. She works as an Assistant Professor of creative writing at Rowan University, attends an Episcopal church and practices daily contemplative meditation.


"Heather Lanier's Psalms of Unknowing riveted and rattled me, bringing me ultimately toward a complex and unsettled solace. With candor and with canniness, Lanier excavates and eviscerates pat aphorisms and knee-jerk positivity, offering instead a deeply considered engagement with mothering, marriage, spirituality, the medical establishment, and beyond. Lanier writes with formal dexterity and winking lyricism, against misogyny and against ableism, and toward a world worthy of the faithful, the faithless, and everyone in between." --Natalie Shapero, author of Popular Longing"When a book begins 'topless at the office/like a scandal, ' you know the poems it contains will push against easy or sweet received narratives about what it means to be a mother and a person of faith. (She's 'Pumping Milk, ' the poem's title clarifies!) These poems reinvent the trinity, beginning with 'the name of the mother, ' and reimagine the Virgin Mary as a present-day pregnant woman scolded by What to Expect into counting protein grams and giving up tuna. By turns tender and sharply observant, Psalms of Unknowing calls us to consider the fragility of the body, the afterlife of grief, and the consolation afforded by love." --Nancy Reddy, author of Pocket Universe "Lanier's metaphors are masterful. Her pregnant body is 'a bulbous / water-slow clock of waiting' ('The Making'). A baby has 'Q-tip toes of a newborn' ('Only a Sliver of Love Runs Hot')... A midwife 'cranks / the metal beak' of a speculum during a prenatal exam ('Bed Rest'). This body of poems straddles the delicate creation of new life and the unpredictability of death." --Kirkus Reviews
Praise for Heather Lanier's Raising a Rare Girl: "A remarkable book . . . I found myself thinking that all expectant and new parents should read it." --Michelle Slater"Lanier's memoir is now on the short list of books I'll give, when the time comes, to my own pregnant daughters. It's not just because a wise woman ought, in this as in all else, to be prepared for disaster even as she hopes for delight. It's not even because Lanier's writing is clean and beautiful. . . Lanier shines a clear light on what we sign up for when we allow a human soul to come through us and into the world, in whatever 'interesting and beautiful package' that soul might find. . . [She] teases out the glory, charm and humor of these moments, letting us adore her child with her." --Kate Braestrup, New York Times Book Review"This is an intensely reflective and honest account....Readers share moments of anguish, terror, laughter, and triumph, as feisty Fiona grows and conquers milestones in her own unique ways. The book ends as Fiona enters Kindergarten, confident, quirky, and rare, indeed."--Booklist"Moving and insightful . . . Lanier struggles with the attitudes of physicians and others who regard her daughter as 'damaged' and beautifully details her own acceptance. . . This intimate, powerful memoir will resonate with parents, whether of 'superbabies' or not." --Publishers Weekly "Lanier writes with powerful humanity as she charts her course. . . Her abiding love for Fiona is clear throughout, and it's heartening to watch her learn to reject the idea that disability is deficit. . . A book of pluck, spirit, and great emotion with an appealing perspective on the value of each human life." --Kirkus Reviews