Lo maps the deprivation and richness of a rural girlhood and offers an intimate portrait of the woman—tender, hungry, hopeful—who manages to emerge. In a series of lyric odes and elegies, Lo explores the notion that we can be partially constituted by lack—poverty, neglect, isolation. The child in the book’s early sections is beloved and lonely, cherished and abused, lucky and imperiled, and by leaning into this complexity the poems render a tentative and shimmering space sometimes occluded, the space occupied by a girl coming to find herself and the world beautiful, even as that world harms her.
“Melissa Crowe is a new kind of genius of sensory memory. Mina Loy–like, Sappho-seeming, as if those ancient fragments blossomed so many centuries later as lush nerve endings signaling desire, signaling help for the crushed blooms of a childhood betrayed, in a cycle of agonizing poems the book’s other sections surround as if holding, carefully, even joyfully. Lo is a love song with a haunting melody that thrills me and makes me weep with gratitude.”—Brenda Shaughnessy, judge, Iowa Poetry Prize
“Lo rides the exclamation and imperative of its title with indefatigable tenderness and dogged reverie and confirms Crowe’s place as one of contemporary poetry’s most skilled raconteurs. Crowe knows attention is a kind of love, and her work resonates with the easy hum of concentrated care; what’s rare, then, is how these finely spun poems carry us through the sweet and the bitter, reviving a buried bravery both necessary and all our own.”—Meg Day, author, Last Psalm at Sea Level
“Lo is a devastatingly gorgeous, sigh-out-loud-every-other-line celebration of the inner life. Like a geode, an ordinary looking rock, Lo insists that there is more—more to discover inside or underneath, more in the secreted and unsaid. In these poems, Crowe cracks open the ordinary, the harrowing, even the ugly, to reveal the jewels inside. This book—this poet—is a marvel.”—Maggie Smith, author, Goldenrod
“Lo, a striking collection of poems by Melissa Crowe, is a pick-it-up-and-read-it straight-through collection, an 'OMG, OMG!' page-turner. Crowe takes into consideration the big questions in life as much as the pleasure of small details. . . . must-read collection.”—New York Journal of Books
“In Melissa Crowe's incandescent second book threats are everywhere, but love and beauty counteract them. Incorporating a variety of forms, this collection of thirty-five affecting autobiographical poems travels from impoverished girlhood to marriage and motherhood in the post-pandemic U.S. . . . In elegies and epithalamiums (poems celebrating marriage), as well as free forms, Crowe honors the family ties that bring her solace, such as her husband and college-bound daughter. . . . Aching loss, teasing sensuality, fear, and wonder at natural beauty: the volume's emotional range is enhanced by alliteration and botanical imagery, with the poet's resilient 'heart a foraged / apple, still green.'”—Shelf Awareness
“Lo is compelling, even suspenseful. Each poem pulls us further—irresistibly—into the speaker’s rural childhood, through the trauma of molestation, and into the complexities of adulthood. . . . the poems capture a feeling I suspect we all share of being haunted—by different ghosts perhaps, but surely we all have some hovering regret, horror, or fear we’d love to expel. . . . through their lush details and direct address, the poems invite the reader so emphatically in.”—Mom Egg Review
From “General Absolution”
Will you know what I mean if I say
we should have designated all the water
holy? I’m trying to forgive you. And if you’re
wondering who you are, you’re everyone.