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“At the Table of the Unknown” by Alexandra Umlas (Moontide Press, 2019)

July 4, 2019

At the Table of the Unknown by Alexandra Umlas (Moontide Press, 2019)

“If the mise-en-scene of many poems in this debut volume by Alexandra Umlas is domestic, and the prosody traditional, the versification nevertheless belies its suburban context. With an ear attuned to the nuanced placement of the caesura, the empathy of Umlas’s imagination encompasses the multitudinous tensions generated within a home, Just as happy families turn out, in fact, to be different in their hard-won equanimity, so too do Umlas’s poems provide us with a surprising amount of variegated pleasure. Those who admire the nimble dexterity and wisdom of Timothy Steele and A.E. Stallings now have a chance to champion another poet on course to join their company. These poems aren’t meant to comfort you, but there is a solace in the way in which they defamiliarize the ostensible reassurances of daily life, and leave us grateful for incremental rewards, not the least of which is this volume of superb poetry.”
— Bill Mohr, author of The Headwaters of Nirvana and Holdouts: The Los Angeles Poetry Renaissance 1948-1992

“What joy opening a first poetry collection to find a fully realized, compelling work of art. . . . . At the Table of the Unknown is a luminous debut.” — Donna Hilbert, author of Gravity New & Selected Poems

“Alex Umlas’s At the Table of the Unknown is a first book of extraordinary maturity in both subject matter and craft. Equally adept at both formal and free verse, Umlas invites us to a feast of delicious sounds and images that reveal the so-called “ordinary” to be anything but. At the Table of the Unknown heralds the arrival of a delightful new voice in American poetry.” — Charles Harper Webb, author of Sidebend World and A Million MFAs Are Not Enough

“(T)hough someone might suppose these poems rise from the environment of a ‘ordinary’ life, in fact they stand as proof there is no such thing as an ordinary life, certainly not when shaped by this poet’s technical skill and embracing moral consciousness.” — Suzanne Lummis, author of Open 24 Hours

“What astonishes me is how each page of her collection opens a fresh surprise, in form, as in content. Alex Umlas has waited long enough and worked hard enough to present us with a brilliant, full formed book of poems out of a fully shaped life.” — John Ridland, author of Happy in an Ordinary Thing

“These poems stay with you because they are earnest in their existential questions, authentic in their scrutiny of everyday life, and combine to create a striking portrait of how Death and the living sing to each other.” — Armine Iknadossian, author of All That Wasted Fruit

“She is a compassionate and honest poet, one equipped with ingenuity and wit.” — David Hernandez, author of Dear, Sincerely

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