Cover painting by Dawn Lee  www.dawnleeart.com

Cover painting by Dawn Lee


In the wondrous poems of Michelle Whittaker, "the tired self slipknots a song for her own self to sleep." Even as her language loops into lullabies, swells and spells, it casts a blue and uneasy shadow. Even when she meditates on art or mortality, she dazzles with a turn of phrase and explosive imagery. Even when adrift on the music and mystery of dreams, Surge is fueled by feeling. Warmth and compassion power this amazing debut. 

- Terrance Hayes - New York Times Magazine Poetry Editor


Michelle Whittaker sounds like no other poet I know: there is a wildness in her work, a strange singing from an unfamiliar depth, built of arresting imagery and turns of phrase that bend the mind. The scope of her vision is wide, as she interrogates love, the body and mortality, art, the "self" and its mutability and recesses. Whittaker's is a poetics that affirms life as much as it questions it, “consol[ing] the yes” we have no choice but to offer experience, even in darkness, even at “the edge of almost.” Surge is a startling debut from a unique and mysterious poet.

—Charif Shanahan, author of Into Each Room We Enter without Knowing


Until Michelle Whittaker came along, remipedes were “poison-happy” crustaceans, not metaphors for the poet’s art, not “beseechers” with fangs. Thus debuts a voice like no other and an imagination that feeds on paradox. The unbowed spirit magnifies the broken, mortal body. Cruelty and love pack into the same exoskeleton, male and female they pack. We do unspeakable things to each other, yet we create sumptuous havens, music, art, mirrors formerly known as literature, out of our “Goddamn Fire.” We are in danger. Surge just might save us, even as we drown.
—Julie Sheehan, author of  Bar Book: Poems and Otherwise

Self Hiking Avalon.JPG

Avalon Park & Preserve

New York