Shortlisted for the Gerald Lampert Memorial Award
Emergencies, faith, truancy, and poverty intersect in this wry debut that volunteers a transfusion of the unpredictable for those who yearn to transition beyond a muralized Olive Garden world.
Stevie Howell's [Sharps] takes its cue from an Egyptian hieroglyph used interchangeably to represent "waters," the letter N, and all prepositions within a sentence. Similarly, [Sharps] alters its structure and functionality from page to page. The Queen launches an advertising campaign to procure our envy. The last unicorn crochets a sweater out of the sisal cords of the books. The falsity of Billy Joel's New York propaganda is grounds for libel. We discover the one thing you can do "With a sawed-off rifle, a low IQ, and curiosity/about human biology."
From certain angles, [Sharps] embraces the possibilities of poetry — from others, it engages in a protracted street fight with language.
"These poems are coded emergency and emergent code: hail, cut glass, cathedrals, systems, skeletons, and scorched earth. Stevie Howell has found a fault line underwriting Reality and turned this fissure, this terrible brokenness, into a lens. She sees the queasy, exact particular and can phase from its contours into metaphysics and back before we sense the ground shifting. An astonishing debut. An astonishing collection, full stop."
"Howell's stunning debut ... Her ear is impeccable."