Watch videos of Keely Hyslop performing poems from the book!
Read sample poems from the book!
Synopsis of Things I Say to Pirates on Nights When I Miss You:
The 2011 winner of the Fourteen Hills Press Michael Rubin Book Award competition, judged by Major Jackson, Things I Say to Pirates on Nights When I Miss You is a three part exploration of the mythologies of empowerment and victimization, both official and
personal, that an individual uses as the raw material with which to construct a cohesive identity. The book begins with an unnamed speaker’s extended correspondence with a woman pirate from the 1700s. In the course of exploring Anne Bonny’s relationship to her family and her shipmates, Captain Calico Jack Rackham and fellow woman pirate, Mary Read, the speaker’s own fears, desires, and motivations begin to emerge. The middle section of the book is a fictionalized exploration of the speaker’s family history in which stories that the family tells itself about itself are revealed and deconstructed. The final section attempts to use the lessons learned in the previous two sections to construct an irreverent, lyrical treatise on the complexities of inhabiting a body, and the additional complications that arise when that body is defined as or begins to define itself as female and queer. Periodic interruptions from historical and mythological figures such as Sylvia Plath, Ella Fitzgerald, Medusa, and others ensure that easy moments of closure are continually interrogated and problematized.
What Others Are Saying About the Book:
“In both the historical and popular imagination of outlaw culture, the pirate occupies a central place as a swashbuckling, rogue seafarer driven by banditry and greed for treasures. In our literature and movies, he comes to us as skull-laden, eye-patched with gaudy earrings, a curved sword, in a ruffled, puffed-sleeve shirt. “Out of the marginal space between / ocean and sky,” “out of the stack of history books,” Keely Hyslop rescues Pirate Anne Bonny as female warrior and instigator of this robust collection of poems. Like her muse, the speaker in these poems is ferocious, eccentric, wild, and uncontained. And yet, in these poems, one encounters a measured yet nourishing and questing intelligence in love with language and song. This is the book we’ve been waiting for featuring a woman not afraid of the adventures of the mind nor the open seas of the heart.”
- Major Jackson, Author of Returning to Saturn and Holding Company
“You think it’s sweet, but then a twist of super-sour hits, then it’s meaty, then it’s gone and you want it back. This book is like a fascinating and unpredictable lover.”
-Anna Joy Springer, author of The Vicious Red Relic, Love
“In this debut book, Keely Hyslop… makes textual love to a pantheon of female monsters including, among others, pirate Anne Bonny, with whom she maintains a lengthy correspondence, Medusa, and even Barbie. This book adventurously explores the complexities of gender identification and desire. It’s a good read.”
-Rae Armantrout, author of Versed and Money Shot
“This is a book of transformations, a book that transforms: women into pirates, pirates into confidants, hearts into paper, lovers into bodies that refuse to be defined by what they seem. This is a book about boundaries and their limits. With a remarkable range and deft precision, Hyslop ignites the common kernels we have clung to and called “truth.” This is a book to move us forward. It is a book that will light the way.”
-Camille T. Dungy, author of Suck on the Marrow and Smith Blue