Index of Women

Ebook
0"W x 0"H x 0"D  
On sale Apr 06, 2021 | 112 Pages | 978-0-525-50780-2
| Grades 9-12 + AP/IB
From a "maestra of invention" (The New York Times) who is at once supremely witty, ferociously smart, and emotionally raw, a new collection of poems about womanhood

Amy Gerstler has won acclaim for sly, sophisticated, and subversive poems that find meaning in unexpected places. Women's voices, from childhood to old age, dominate this new collection of rants, dramatic monologues, confessions and laments. A young girl muses on virginity. An aging opera singer rages against the fact that she must quit drinking. A woman in a supermarket addresses a head of lettuce. The tooth fairy finally speaks out. Both comic and prayer-like, these poems wrestle with mortality, animality, love, gender, and what it is to be human.
Amy Gerstler is a writer of poetry, nonfiction, and journalism who lives in Los Angeles. She is the author of ten previous poetry collections, including Bitter Angel, which won the National Book Critics Circle Award, and Crown of Weeds, which won a California Book Award. Her most recent collection, Scattered at Sea, was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award. Her poems have appeared in The New Yorker, The Paris Review, The American Poetry Review, and several volumes of Best American Poetry. She teaches in the graduate fine arts department at Art Center, College of Design, in Pasadena, California, and is a member of the core faculty of the Bennington Writing Seminars MFA program at Bennington College in Vermont. View titles by Amy Gerstler

{from an Introduction to some fragments of the Index of Women}

 

So, given the document’s age and ravaged state,

 

it’s far from the epic we thought we’d be left

 

by our ancestors. Where, for example,

 

are the gods, floods, beasts, and prophesies?

 

of these women tell me

 

In fairness, evidence suggests that the authors

 

of this scattershot, fragmented volume never

 

called what they were collecting and setting

 

down an “epic,” “catalog,” or “index”

 

but instead used a term that most closely

 

translates to “inheritance” in our language.

 

she who holds the keys

 

she who can speak to bees

 

she who guards the crosswalks

 

she who unites disparate nations and faiths

 

will remain ageless all her days.

 

Also uncharacteristic of a true epic is the text’s

 

intrinsic ambivalence, for instance, its mentions,

 

often ironic, of modesty, gracefulness, purity, delicacy,

 

civility, compliance, reticence, chastity, affability, and

 

politeness, next to sentences like “slut” being,

 

of course, an honorific, and when the body insists,

 

who are you to contradict it? as well as numerous

 

other sexual references.

 

of these women tell me:

 

such as she, swallower of swords, sorrow, and semen

 

such as she who is a physical stud

 

such as she who is born anew every second

 

such as she who breaks speed limits

 

such as she who represents the totality of what can be known

 

such as she who leads mixed-gender teams into battle

 

she who manages, no matter where she is, to keep herself clean

 

she who was buried in her Girl Scout uniform—

 

sash covered with merit badges

 

Authored over the course of generations,

 

often under dire conditions (some type

 

of plague may have been raging

 

during the first few decades in which

 

it was written), the text at times seems

 

to mutate, containing a shifting chorus

 

of voices singing in unison. At other

 

times, speakers are for pages

 

engaged in spirited debates.

 

we loaded our battered Chevy with provisions:

 

bedding, bottles, pots, pans, high chair, crib,

 

then she began having second thoughts about our mission.

 

Envision, then, a text riddled with disputed

 

fragments, its breath smelling of cough drops,

 

mouthwash, and cigarettes, or instant coffee,

 

or gin, its hands shoved into oven mitts.

 

A document that comes down to us in tatters,

 

passages of which we are told were composed

 

over a Royal Warrior stove in bright brave true blue!!

 

of these women tell me: superlative examples of their kind

 

For no reason we can find

 

the document includes a selection

 

of cheerful seasonal songs

 

and several attempts to describe

 

the sounds made by wind chimes.

 

Tell me of the seamstress of souls

 

of those night wanderers and root diggers

 

of she who moves easily between worlds

 

she who holds her teacup high over her head

 

when victorious, laughing so hard

 

tea splatters down her gown

 

We had hoped to learn about ancient notions

 

of the heroic. All we have found so far are vows,

 

curses, recipes, regrets, prayers, elegies,

 

love songs, tales of drug trips, protests,

 

remedies, household hints, and practical

 

instructions: for growing tomatoes in poor soil,

 

for curing infections, and for easing the dying

 

out of this life, to offer three random examples.

 

a Girl Scout’s honor is to be trusted

 

a Girl Scout is loyal

 

a Girl Scout is a friend to all and a sister to every other Girl Scout

 

a Girl Scout is clean in thought, word, and deed

 

It is impossible to tell when the last undamaged copy was lost.

 

you are not going to get a wilting flower

 

you are going to get a hard-charging female

 

Perhaps it can be loosely classed as a “shattered epic”?

 

it is recounted that women drove their cars to remote sites

 

to mate with rivers, animals, and trees

 

Here the page is badly damaged, with only four lines decipherable:

 

such as she who could diagnose with her nose

 

such as she who can say NO

 

such as she who tends those floating in coma

 

such as she who sees ghosts before breakfast . . .

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Virginity

 

Lying down on the rug with someone and getting dust

 

bunnies in your hair. The eloquence of long pauses.

 

Passing notes rather than speaking. A basement fogged

 

with pot smoke. Trying to read another body via its breathing.

 

The idea that if you kiss someone you can taste what they

 

just ate. Refusing to eat what your mother cooks anymore,

 

which hurts her feelings. But you can’t stand dead sautéed

 

animal inside your mouth now, so you have to spit it out.

 

The myth that innocence is protective. The idea of not

 

being able to stop. Reading secret magazines a cousin stuffed

 

into the bottom of his sleeping bag. The idea that someone

 

curious about your body isn’t interested in the private theater

 

of your mind. Theories that there might be a kind of

 

violence about it. How Mother insists that without true love

 

it’s just worthless humping, and the idea that for the life

 

you aspire to, she’s probably wrong. What your body has

 

promised for so long. The idea of your disastrous premiere.

 

The idea of someone laughing at you after. The idea of

 

hoofprints, stampede damage, being crushed underfoot.

 

The idea of keeping all this hidden as you slowly lotus open.

 

 

 

Ode to Birth Control

 

Fertility hot on my heels like a Fury,

 

and I at that young age in such a blind hurry

 

to embrace the opposite of what was chaste.

 

That’s where you came in—You jellies,

 

You douches, in white pliable tubes

 

like the family toothpaste. And You:

 

cylindrical plastic applicator, squirting

 

a plume of contraceptive goo

 

on a bathroom wall

 

that first night I fumbled with you.

 

Ancient birth control methods include:

 

fish bladders linen sheaths

 

honey lint acacia leaves

 

and my personal favorite: crocodile dung

 

gummy substances to stop up

 

the mouth of the womb

 

silkworm guts were also thought useful

 

Margaret Sanger’s words

 

clang in the head:

 

woman as brood animal

 

A friend sends a Victorian postcard

 

of a large stork, bundle dangling from its beak,

 

chasing a woman in hat and bustle

 

as she attempts to defend herself with her umbrella.

 

The caption reads: and still the villain pursues her

 

Rare, that early flash of self-knowledge

 

that while I might care deeply

 

for other people’s children, I was not mother

 

material. Not sane enough. Ill too often.

 

Etc. I don’t believe I have to provide an excuse.

 

And so, You, Madame Diaphragm,

 

were pressed into service: shallow rubber cup

 

anointed with cold-as-a-Slurpee spermicide,

 

then folded in half and shoved up inside.

 

The diaphragm slept in a pink plastic case

 

that clicked shut like the hatch of a

 

spacecraft. Diaphragm: a contraceptive

 

device that Margaret Sanger (I will kiss her

 

shoes if we meet in the afterlife) was jailed

 

for smuggling into the U.S., in brandy

 

bottles, birth control being illegal in 1918.

 

Pamphlets or books on the topic were

 

also banned, considered obscene.

 

During certain years I nevertheless

 

ached for an infant’s weight to cradle, caress,

 

longed to clone in utero the men I loved best.

 

Nowadays, when I get my hands on

 

a nice, juicy baby, somebody’s burping,

 

shitting little god, I tremble and pray.

 

Some babies wave arms and legs languidly

 

as if rehearsing water ballet.

 

A few are as inconsolable as adults.

 

Except a baby is never wrong.

 

To be taken over, invaded. To swell. To harbor a being in your body who won’t leave. To be a vessel, a container. To once again become secondary to a life deemed more important than yours. To host a kind of parasite. To have your organs squashed to make room for another human. Not to be alone in your body anymore, to become a form of packaging and/or housing. To be temporarily double-souled. To eat, sleep, and breathe for two. To be sapped, waylaid, stopped in your tracks. To be trapped, to have no means of escape, to be forced to

 

(until men and women are absolved from

 

the fear of becoming parents,

 

except when they themselves desire it)

 

become not a person but a place, a site, someone’s ground zero, their very first hometown. They hide in the guest room of your womb and set up camp. And your body begins to shift for their benefit. Whether you’re willing or not. Whether you have money or a place to live. Whether you can take of yourself, or

 

These “medicines,” these devices,

 

became in my day as part of one’s anatomy,

 

one’s exertions/insertions,

 

the secrecy of secretions,

 

the panics, narrow escapes,

 

nightmares of being chased

 

by armies of greedy babies.

 

Let me alone! Forgive me!

 

We girls stared down pharmacy clerks

 

or squirmed in stirrups

 

of bow tie–wearing gynecologists,

 

bought or begged these items

 

and prayed they’d work.

 

or, you may eat a concoction of oil and quicksilver after the fact

 

 

 

And You IUDs . . . Copper-7, tiny

 

wire-wrapped numeral who caused

 

a year of hellish cramps. Dalkon

 

Shield shaped like a horseshoe crab.

 

Hormone pills in roulette wheel dispensers.

 

Plastic, rubber, and chemical protectresses,

 

all I have to offer is this awkward song.

 

Across the trajectory of my childless life,

 

I call out to you now, name you and praise you.

 

I owe you all I’ve tried to be.

 

 

 

Anthem

 

Dear blitzkrieg of wetness and breasts.

 

Dear masseuses and muses, thighs sluiced

 

with juices. Dear coven members posing

 

peppery questions, like: Is a witchy third breast

 

akin to a third eye? Can we climb into the light

 

now from cellars and attics? Can we abandon

 

our nectar dance temporarily, stop skimming

 

froth off cauldrons and let our bravura arias

 

ascend? So much depends upon shrewd,

 

ingenious, difficult women, prodigal daughters

 

and wisecracking wives, unwilling brides, bakers

 

of exploding pies, giantesses in whose tresses

 

condors nest, audacious maidens with blood on

 

their tongues, all of whose chests house untamed

 

hearts: How is it your beauty never departs?

 

 

 

 

 

Tooth Fairy Sonnet

 

I can’t tolerate daylight, so I slip into the dim of kids’

 

bedrooms at night, adorned with necklaces made of

 

baby teeth. The color white makes me retch. I’d like

 

to resign, become something other than a fang

 

collector. I can fly, but only as a limp, boneless ghost,

 

a spectral jellyfish with floating skirts, a marble quarry

 

whirlwind. I smell of chalk dust, old dental records,

 

ossuaries, loss, and skeletons cleaned of meat. My

 

breath is a whiff of extinction. I have eyes like

 

mustard seeds. No, I’m not pretty. To reach your

 

world of porcelain drinking fountains and molar-

 

rotting toffees, I navigate a long, winding tunnel

 

each evening, parts of which are dark, and parts

 

of which are the hurt pink of a sore throat.

Praise for Index of Women:

“Intimate, funny, poignant, present . . . true to the inner lives of so many women . . . beautifully crafted . . . what’s miraculous […] is that this clamor of voices across continents and centuries somehow amounts to the experience of a single mortal: she contains our multitudes.” Los Angeles Review of Books

“Witty, conversational, ironic, Gerstler’s poetry portrays everyday scenes with psychic depth . . . she mixes offbeat humor and dark observations . . . she uses minimal punctuation, which inserts a swirl of energy into the poems. As her impressions flow together, they add a surreal atmosphere, suggestive of art by Toulouse-Lautrec—as when his dancers, spectators, and settings enhance one another, contributing to a sense of mystery that […] is compelling.” Library Journal

"Gerstler brings her customary wit, playfulness, and emotional range to poems that expose the contradictions in ancient and contemporary concepts of femininity. These poems—some dramatic monologues, others more quiet lyrics—vividly render their chief thematic concern . . . This wonderfully intelligent and imaginative collection upends conventional gender norms in favor of illustrating womanhood in all its idiosyncrasy, complexity, and fullness." —Publishers Weekly
 
Praise for the poetry of Amy Gerstler:

"[Gerstler's poetry is] extremely rich. But not cluttered and not loud . . . the supernatural, the sexy mundane, the out-of-sight are simply her materials, employed as they might be in a piece of religious art." —Eileen Myles, author of Evolution

"[Gerstler's] poem has me crying in the airport." —Ada Limón, author of Bright Dead Things

"[Gerstler has been] one of my favorite poets since I read her book Bitter Angel. Now I have every book of hers on my shelves." —Maggie Smith, author of Good Bones

"[Gerstler's poems are] charming and smart and emotionally targeted . . . clever [and] emotionally resonant . . . Witty, irreverent, self-deprecating--fundamentally kind." Los Angeles Review of Books

About

From a "maestra of invention" (The New York Times) who is at once supremely witty, ferociously smart, and emotionally raw, a new collection of poems about womanhood

Amy Gerstler has won acclaim for sly, sophisticated, and subversive poems that find meaning in unexpected places. Women's voices, from childhood to old age, dominate this new collection of rants, dramatic monologues, confessions and laments. A young girl muses on virginity. An aging opera singer rages against the fact that she must quit drinking. A woman in a supermarket addresses a head of lettuce. The tooth fairy finally speaks out. Both comic and prayer-like, these poems wrestle with mortality, animality, love, gender, and what it is to be human.

Author

Amy Gerstler is a writer of poetry, nonfiction, and journalism who lives in Los Angeles. She is the author of ten previous poetry collections, including Bitter Angel, which won the National Book Critics Circle Award, and Crown of Weeds, which won a California Book Award. Her most recent collection, Scattered at Sea, was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award. Her poems have appeared in The New Yorker, The Paris Review, The American Poetry Review, and several volumes of Best American Poetry. She teaches in the graduate fine arts department at Art Center, College of Design, in Pasadena, California, and is a member of the core faculty of the Bennington Writing Seminars MFA program at Bennington College in Vermont. View titles by Amy Gerstler

Excerpt

{from an Introduction to some fragments of the Index of Women}

 

So, given the document’s age and ravaged state,

 

it’s far from the epic we thought we’d be left

 

by our ancestors. Where, for example,

 

are the gods, floods, beasts, and prophesies?

 

of these women tell me

 

In fairness, evidence suggests that the authors

 

of this scattershot, fragmented volume never

 

called what they were collecting and setting

 

down an “epic,” “catalog,” or “index”

 

but instead used a term that most closely

 

translates to “inheritance” in our language.

 

she who holds the keys

 

she who can speak to bees

 

she who guards the crosswalks

 

she who unites disparate nations and faiths

 

will remain ageless all her days.

 

Also uncharacteristic of a true epic is the text’s

 

intrinsic ambivalence, for instance, its mentions,

 

often ironic, of modesty, gracefulness, purity, delicacy,

 

civility, compliance, reticence, chastity, affability, and

 

politeness, next to sentences like “slut” being,

 

of course, an honorific, and when the body insists,

 

who are you to contradict it? as well as numerous

 

other sexual references.

 

of these women tell me:

 

such as she, swallower of swords, sorrow, and semen

 

such as she who is a physical stud

 

such as she who is born anew every second

 

such as she who breaks speed limits

 

such as she who represents the totality of what can be known

 

such as she who leads mixed-gender teams into battle

 

she who manages, no matter where she is, to keep herself clean

 

she who was buried in her Girl Scout uniform—

 

sash covered with merit badges

 

Authored over the course of generations,

 

often under dire conditions (some type

 

of plague may have been raging

 

during the first few decades in which

 

it was written), the text at times seems

 

to mutate, containing a shifting chorus

 

of voices singing in unison. At other

 

times, speakers are for pages

 

engaged in spirited debates.

 

we loaded our battered Chevy with provisions:

 

bedding, bottles, pots, pans, high chair, crib,

 

then she began having second thoughts about our mission.

 

Envision, then, a text riddled with disputed

 

fragments, its breath smelling of cough drops,

 

mouthwash, and cigarettes, or instant coffee,

 

or gin, its hands shoved into oven mitts.

 

A document that comes down to us in tatters,

 

passages of which we are told were composed

 

over a Royal Warrior stove in bright brave true blue!!

 

of these women tell me: superlative examples of their kind

 

For no reason we can find

 

the document includes a selection

 

of cheerful seasonal songs

 

and several attempts to describe

 

the sounds made by wind chimes.

 

Tell me of the seamstress of souls

 

of those night wanderers and root diggers

 

of she who moves easily between worlds

 

she who holds her teacup high over her head

 

when victorious, laughing so hard

 

tea splatters down her gown

 

We had hoped to learn about ancient notions

 

of the heroic. All we have found so far are vows,

 

curses, recipes, regrets, prayers, elegies,

 

love songs, tales of drug trips, protests,

 

remedies, household hints, and practical

 

instructions: for growing tomatoes in poor soil,

 

for curing infections, and for easing the dying

 

out of this life, to offer three random examples.

 

a Girl Scout’s honor is to be trusted

 

a Girl Scout is loyal

 

a Girl Scout is a friend to all and a sister to every other Girl Scout

 

a Girl Scout is clean in thought, word, and deed

 

It is impossible to tell when the last undamaged copy was lost.

 

you are not going to get a wilting flower

 

you are going to get a hard-charging female

 

Perhaps it can be loosely classed as a “shattered epic”?

 

it is recounted that women drove their cars to remote sites

 

to mate with rivers, animals, and trees

 

Here the page is badly damaged, with only four lines decipherable:

 

such as she who could diagnose with her nose

 

such as she who can say NO

 

such as she who tends those floating in coma

 

such as she who sees ghosts before breakfast . . .

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Virginity

 

Lying down on the rug with someone and getting dust

 

bunnies in your hair. The eloquence of long pauses.

 

Passing notes rather than speaking. A basement fogged

 

with pot smoke. Trying to read another body via its breathing.

 

The idea that if you kiss someone you can taste what they

 

just ate. Refusing to eat what your mother cooks anymore,

 

which hurts her feelings. But you can’t stand dead sautéed

 

animal inside your mouth now, so you have to spit it out.

 

The myth that innocence is protective. The idea of not

 

being able to stop. Reading secret magazines a cousin stuffed

 

into the bottom of his sleeping bag. The idea that someone

 

curious about your body isn’t interested in the private theater

 

of your mind. Theories that there might be a kind of

 

violence about it. How Mother insists that without true love

 

it’s just worthless humping, and the idea that for the life

 

you aspire to, she’s probably wrong. What your body has

 

promised for so long. The idea of your disastrous premiere.

 

The idea of someone laughing at you after. The idea of

 

hoofprints, stampede damage, being crushed underfoot.

 

The idea of keeping all this hidden as you slowly lotus open.

 

 

 

Ode to Birth Control

 

Fertility hot on my heels like a Fury,

 

and I at that young age in such a blind hurry

 

to embrace the opposite of what was chaste.

 

That’s where you came in—You jellies,

 

You douches, in white pliable tubes

 

like the family toothpaste. And You:

 

cylindrical plastic applicator, squirting

 

a plume of contraceptive goo

 

on a bathroom wall

 

that first night I fumbled with you.

 

Ancient birth control methods include:

 

fish bladders linen sheaths

 

honey lint acacia leaves

 

and my personal favorite: crocodile dung

 

gummy substances to stop up

 

the mouth of the womb

 

silkworm guts were also thought useful

 

Margaret Sanger’s words

 

clang in the head:

 

woman as brood animal

 

A friend sends a Victorian postcard

 

of a large stork, bundle dangling from its beak,

 

chasing a woman in hat and bustle

 

as she attempts to defend herself with her umbrella.

 

The caption reads: and still the villain pursues her

 

Rare, that early flash of self-knowledge

 

that while I might care deeply

 

for other people’s children, I was not mother

 

material. Not sane enough. Ill too often.

 

Etc. I don’t believe I have to provide an excuse.

 

And so, You, Madame Diaphragm,

 

were pressed into service: shallow rubber cup

 

anointed with cold-as-a-Slurpee spermicide,

 

then folded in half and shoved up inside.

 

The diaphragm slept in a pink plastic case

 

that clicked shut like the hatch of a

 

spacecraft. Diaphragm: a contraceptive

 

device that Margaret Sanger (I will kiss her

 

shoes if we meet in the afterlife) was jailed

 

for smuggling into the U.S., in brandy

 

bottles, birth control being illegal in 1918.

 

Pamphlets or books on the topic were

 

also banned, considered obscene.

 

During certain years I nevertheless

 

ached for an infant’s weight to cradle, caress,

 

longed to clone in utero the men I loved best.

 

Nowadays, when I get my hands on

 

a nice, juicy baby, somebody’s burping,

 

shitting little god, I tremble and pray.

 

Some babies wave arms and legs languidly

 

as if rehearsing water ballet.

 

A few are as inconsolable as adults.

 

Except a baby is never wrong.

 

To be taken over, invaded. To swell. To harbor a being in your body who won’t leave. To be a vessel, a container. To once again become secondary to a life deemed more important than yours. To host a kind of parasite. To have your organs squashed to make room for another human. Not to be alone in your body anymore, to become a form of packaging and/or housing. To be temporarily double-souled. To eat, sleep, and breathe for two. To be sapped, waylaid, stopped in your tracks. To be trapped, to have no means of escape, to be forced to

 

(until men and women are absolved from

 

the fear of becoming parents,

 

except when they themselves desire it)

 

become not a person but a place, a site, someone’s ground zero, their very first hometown. They hide in the guest room of your womb and set up camp. And your body begins to shift for their benefit. Whether you’re willing or not. Whether you have money or a place to live. Whether you can take of yourself, or

 

These “medicines,” these devices,

 

became in my day as part of one’s anatomy,

 

one’s exertions/insertions,

 

the secrecy of secretions,

 

the panics, narrow escapes,

 

nightmares of being chased

 

by armies of greedy babies.

 

Let me alone! Forgive me!

 

We girls stared down pharmacy clerks

 

or squirmed in stirrups

 

of bow tie–wearing gynecologists,

 

bought or begged these items

 

and prayed they’d work.

 

or, you may eat a concoction of oil and quicksilver after the fact

 

 

 

And You IUDs . . . Copper-7, tiny

 

wire-wrapped numeral who caused

 

a year of hellish cramps. Dalkon

 

Shield shaped like a horseshoe crab.

 

Hormone pills in roulette wheel dispensers.

 

Plastic, rubber, and chemical protectresses,

 

all I have to offer is this awkward song.

 

Across the trajectory of my childless life,

 

I call out to you now, name you and praise you.

 

I owe you all I’ve tried to be.

 

 

 

Anthem

 

Dear blitzkrieg of wetness and breasts.

 

Dear masseuses and muses, thighs sluiced

 

with juices. Dear coven members posing

 

peppery questions, like: Is a witchy third breast

 

akin to a third eye? Can we climb into the light

 

now from cellars and attics? Can we abandon

 

our nectar dance temporarily, stop skimming

 

froth off cauldrons and let our bravura arias

 

ascend? So much depends upon shrewd,

 

ingenious, difficult women, prodigal daughters

 

and wisecracking wives, unwilling brides, bakers

 

of exploding pies, giantesses in whose tresses

 

condors nest, audacious maidens with blood on

 

their tongues, all of whose chests house untamed

 

hearts: How is it your beauty never departs?

 

 

 

 

 

Tooth Fairy Sonnet

 

I can’t tolerate daylight, so I slip into the dim of kids’

 

bedrooms at night, adorned with necklaces made of

 

baby teeth. The color white makes me retch. I’d like

 

to resign, become something other than a fang

 

collector. I can fly, but only as a limp, boneless ghost,

 

a spectral jellyfish with floating skirts, a marble quarry

 

whirlwind. I smell of chalk dust, old dental records,

 

ossuaries, loss, and skeletons cleaned of meat. My

 

breath is a whiff of extinction. I have eyes like

 

mustard seeds. No, I’m not pretty. To reach your

 

world of porcelain drinking fountains and molar-

 

rotting toffees, I navigate a long, winding tunnel

 

each evening, parts of which are dark, and parts

 

of which are the hurt pink of a sore throat.

Praise

Praise for Index of Women:

“Intimate, funny, poignant, present . . . true to the inner lives of so many women . . . beautifully crafted . . . what’s miraculous […] is that this clamor of voices across continents and centuries somehow amounts to the experience of a single mortal: she contains our multitudes.” Los Angeles Review of Books

“Witty, conversational, ironic, Gerstler’s poetry portrays everyday scenes with psychic depth . . . she mixes offbeat humor and dark observations . . . she uses minimal punctuation, which inserts a swirl of energy into the poems. As her impressions flow together, they add a surreal atmosphere, suggestive of art by Toulouse-Lautrec—as when his dancers, spectators, and settings enhance one another, contributing to a sense of mystery that […] is compelling.” Library Journal

"Gerstler brings her customary wit, playfulness, and emotional range to poems that expose the contradictions in ancient and contemporary concepts of femininity. These poems—some dramatic monologues, others more quiet lyrics—vividly render their chief thematic concern . . . This wonderfully intelligent and imaginative collection upends conventional gender norms in favor of illustrating womanhood in all its idiosyncrasy, complexity, and fullness." —Publishers Weekly
 
Praise for the poetry of Amy Gerstler:

"[Gerstler's poetry is] extremely rich. But not cluttered and not loud . . . the supernatural, the sexy mundane, the out-of-sight are simply her materials, employed as they might be in a piece of religious art." —Eileen Myles, author of Evolution

"[Gerstler's] poem has me crying in the airport." —Ada Limón, author of Bright Dead Things

"[Gerstler has been] one of my favorite poets since I read her book Bitter Angel. Now I have every book of hers on my shelves." —Maggie Smith, author of Good Bones

"[Gerstler's poems are] charming and smart and emotionally targeted . . . clever [and] emotionally resonant . . . Witty, irreverent, self-deprecating--fundamentally kind." Los Angeles Review of Books

Books for LGBTQIA+ Pride Month

In June we celebrate Pride Month, which honors the 1969 Stonewall riots in Manhattan and highlights the accomplishments of those in the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex, and Asexual + (LGBTQIA+) community, while recognizing the ongoing struggles faced by many across the world who wish to live as their most authentic selves. Here is

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PRH Education High School Collections

All reading communities should contain protected time for the sake of reading. Independent reading practices emphasize the process of making meaning through reading, not an end product. The school culture (teachers, administration, etc.) should affirm this daily practice time as inherently important instructional time for all readers. (NCTE, 2019)   The Penguin Random House High

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PRH Education Translanguaging Collections

Translanguaging is a communicative practice of bilinguals and multilinguals, that is, it is a practice whereby bilinguals and multilinguals use their entire linguistic repertoire to communicate and make meaning (García, 2009; García, Ibarra Johnson, & Seltzer, 2017)   It is through that lens that we have partnered with teacher educators and bilingual education experts, Drs.

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PRH Education Classroom Libraries

“Books are a students’ passport to entering and actively participating in a global society with the empathy, compassion, and knowledge it takes to become the problem solvers the world needs.” –Laura Robb   Research shows that reading and literacy directly impacts students’ academic success and personal growth. To help promote the importance of daily independent

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