House of Deer

Sasha Steensen’s third volume is a lyric inquiry into a personal history of the back-to-the-land idealism of the 1970s, with its promises and failings, naturalism gone awry, and journeys into the worlds of addiction, recovery, and, ultimately, family. “If family is a body, learn its anatomy,” Steensen writes early in the book, immediately before upending all our expectations and giving us new thoughts to think.

Steensen’s poems of a back-to-the-land childhood and the quirks of nature are sudden, mysterious, beautiful, and sharp—little surprises found when wandering in the woods around a homestead.

—Melissa Coleman

 

Like the Oppen she takes as her epigraph, Sasha Steensen’s is a poetry that feels magically made via both subtraction and building. With language as lush as Hopkins’ and then as small and weird as Niedecker’s, Steensen tells a story, or alights in and out of a story, all her own. It’s an American story, too, with all the bloodiness and experiment that such a thing requires.
--Maggie Nelson

reviews

Hazel & Wren -  Sasha Steensen’s books are more lyric project than poetry collection. While many collections of poetry have themes that tie the poems together, Steensen’s books use their subject as a nexus around which the project grows, as if Steensen free-associated around the subject and developed individual pieces from there. House of Deer, Steensen’s intricate and lovely third collection, centers on her back-to-the-land childhood.  Read more....

Jacket 2 - The family is the history of the species. The family is the history of love & place & force & naming. The family is a history of home— & if home is both "a site and an event," then the family is a history of what happens. In physics, an "event" is a single occurence of a process, a point in spacetime. When & where, & also how the family moves through, how it is moved by history & how it moves history.  Read more...

The Rumpus -  Sasha Steensen’s Ohio is eerie and weedy-wild, full of the tender and the brutal in matter-of-fact convergence.  House of Deer is a story of childhood, but it approaches the time—the 1970s—with both nostalgia and violence.  We at once imagine a girl whose hair is streaming in verdant fields and something ominous in the woods beyond her.  Read more...