About HOW TO LOVE THE EMPTY AIR
Vulnerable, beautiful and ultimately life-affirming, Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz’s work reaches new heights in her revelatory seventh collection of poetry. Continuing in her tradition of engaging autobiographical work, How to Love the Empty Air explores what happens when the impossible becomes real―for better and for worse. Aptowicz’s journey to find happiness and home in her ever-shifting world sees her struggling in cities throughout America. When her luck changes―in love and in life―she can’t help but “tell the sun / tell the fields / tell the huge Texas sky…. / tell myself again and again until I believe it.” However, the upward trajectory of this new life is rocked by the sudden death of the poet’s mother. In the year that follows, Aptowicz battles the silencing power of grief with intimate poems burnished by loss and a hard-won humor, capturing the dance that all newly grieving must do between everyday living and the desire “to elope with this grief, / who is not your enemy, / this grief who maybe now is your best friend. / This grief, who is your husband, / the thing you curl into every night, / falling asleep in its arms…” As in her award-winning The Year of No Mistakes, Aptowicz counts her losses and her blessings, knowing how despite it all, life “ripples boundless, like electricity, like joy / like… laughter, irresistible and bright, / an impossible thing to contain.”Buylinks:
A poem from HOW TO LOVE THE EMPTY AIR
O, Laughter, you are not forgotten.
My body is the jam jar you flew into.You thought it’d be so sweet. You didn’t
Realize it was made by crushing the most
gentle of things. O, Laughter, Grief sees
itself as a knife, carving out what needs
to be seen. See yourself as an ice skater,
the knives on your feet. Sometimes the pain
bursts out of me like a flock of starlings.
My throat releases everything but you.
Laughter, be the slyest magician. Make me
think it’s easy work: this levitation.
I’ll willingly step into the box, if you’d just
cut me in half, spin my parts around,
then make me whole again.
Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz is the author of seven books of poetry, including The Year of No Mistakes, crowned the Book of the Year for Poetry by the Writers’ League of Texas. She is also the author of two books of nonfiction, most recently Dr Mütter’s Marvels: A True Tale of Intrigue and Innovation at the Dawn of Modern Medicine, which spent three months on the New York Times Best Seller List. Recent awards include a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, the ArtsEDGE write-in-residency at the University of Pennsylvania and the Amy Clampitt Residency. When not on the road, she lives in Austin with her husband Ernest Cline, author of the New York Times bestselling Ready Player One.
Praise for HOW TO LOVE THE EMPTY AIR
“Grief is one of the most impossible things to put words to…Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz does the impossible.”
—Sarah Kay, author of No Matter the Wreckage
“Aptowicz is something of a legend in NYC’s slam poetry scene. She is lively thoughtful, and approachable, looking to engage the audience with her work and deeply committed to the community that art and slam poetry can create.”
—Jo Reed, NEA
—Hanif Abdurraqib, author of They Can’t Kill Us Until They Kill Us
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