A collection of poems exploring memories and identity forged in the American South
Selected by 2011 National Book Award winner Nikky Finney as the seventh annual winner of the South Carolina Poetry Book Prize, Hold Like Owls is the first book-length collection from Julia Koets. Full of imagery deeply embedded in memories of growing up in the American South, Koets explores what it means to hold—to carry memories—and what to hold onto and what to let go. Birds turn into paper, a voice fits inside a chestnut shell, and moths eat stars through a woolen sky as the collection evokes nuance within the ordinary, reframes childhood memory, and engages the themes of the night, sensuality, and desire. Whether questioning personal histories, language, sexual identity, or love, the collection honors the "gentle corners of the night" that allow for questioning and uncertainty to exist.
Julia Koets holds an M.F.A. from the University of South Carolina. Her poetry has appeared in numerous journals, including Indiana Review; Los Angeles Review; Euphony; and Cutthroat: A Journal of the Arts. A native of Summerville, South Carolina, Koets currently lives in San Francisco.
"Koets has a penchant for surprising metaphor. She possesses a personal delight for the highest flying verbs and their alluring descriptors. . . . I am grateful to this poet for this first book of poems. I am grateful for what she has taken the time to remind me of. She is just getting started. I applaud the alphabet spilling from her hands."—Nikky Finney, author of Head Off & Split, from the foreword
"The subject of these poems is relationships: of a human with her past, of lover with her beloved, of speech with the unsayable, of cherishing in the face of evanescence. The primary mode is metaphor practiced as a profound alchemy, that is, knowledge acquired by the merging of several meanings, and purity achieved by separation into new clarities. Koets's voice is, simultaneously and by turns, intimate, strangely remote, mournful, ecstatic, seductive, and challenging. This book is an earnest and welcome addition to our great communal work of discovering, creating, and inventing a voice and image of the person we can love. It is a manifold gift."—Li-Young Lee, author of Behind My Eyes and recipient of an Academy of American Poets Fellowship