The Year of the Femme
2018 Iowa Poetry Prize
“Elusive, elegant, and meditative, the poems in Cassie Donish’s The Year of the Femme resist traditional narratives, opting instead to accrue meaning by way of juxtaposition and repetition of language and images. . . . Donish’s intimate and tactile poetry opens a way to understand the duality of the self and its sudden moments of being.”—Foreword Reviews starred review
“Donish’s voice is wreathed, garlanded, full of pollen and rain and clover and indigo—everything further broken, messy, lovely, loving, wild, and utterly itself, and it’s in that state that this voice, lush yet precise, is then thrown to us, the reader sighing with pleasure and pathos. A bold and redemptive truth is found here, not reliant on answers for its power and meaning.”—Brenda Shaughnessy, judge, Iowa Poetry Prize
“Atmospherically rich, these are poems in which you can feel the weather, smell fall coming, feel spring’s sky on your skin. Donish gives them all the time they need to fill from within with imagery and intelligence. They’re also full of pressing questions, and she goes clearly and directly into some of the most pressing of the contemporary moment—gender, desire, loneliness, and how they might all condition each other. And though there is anguish here, there is also considerable hope, a hope born of determination—‘Your heart is beating, yes, despite your scars.’”—Cole Swensen, author, On Walking On
“At the edge of a field a thought waits,” writes Cassie Donish, in her collection that explores the conflicting diplomacies of body and thought while stranding us in a field, in a hospital, on a shoreline. These are poems that assess and dwell in a sensual, fantastically queer mode. Here is a voice slowed by an erotics suffused with pain, quickened by discovery. In masterful long poems and refracted lyrics, Donish flips the coin of subjectivity; different and potentially dangerous faces are revealed in turn. With lyricism as generous as it is exact, Donish tunes her writing as much to the colors, textures, and rhythms of daily life as to what violates daily life—what changes it from within and without.