**Forthcoming from Black Lawrence Press in April 2020**
Lisa Fay Coutley’s tether is characterized by a compressed tension, each line, each word, hitched to the next, quivering with the effort to remain connected and with the opposing desire to be released. The image of the tether accrues intensity in the course of the book: astronaut tethered to the ship, poet to the poem, mother to the homeless, addict child and child to the mother, and in the space between “the two / great opposing poles” is God, who learns, in that chasm, “wonder & suffering.” Indeed, oppositional forces reign in these poems; there are no conventional false resolutions to be had. “Every event / that’s saved my life has nearly killed me,” the speaker declares, and “I would rather live / with my burning than sleep with my dead.” This is a far-reaching book, a political book, a deeply personal and heroic book. Its thesis is reflected in its enviably honed diction. “Mystery is her / bitch,” the speaker writes of the eclipsing sun. The same is true of Lisa Fay Coutley and the ravishing poems of tether.
—Diane Seuss, author of Still Life with Two Dead Peacocks and a Girl and Four-Legged Girl
TETHER is a book of distances and intimacies, of letters never sent and dream talks and delayed communiqués. It is a study of distance between us, between an astronaut and a poet, between lovers, between ourselves and each other, ourselves and ourselves. “We are the beached boat / with a hole in its hull,” admits the poet. Each of us, even as “baby in a womb is a cloud.” And yet there is so much love. And yet, everything that happens to us happens for a purpose. And when one turns worthy, a giant squid washes ashore. It is this knowing, this insight into our distances (of years, of geography, of a space of a single day) here that I find compelling: “& how far / must you back away / from yourself / to see / yourself / as the Astronaut / sees/ Earth.” Beautiful work.
–Ilya Kaminsky, author of Dancing in Odessa
Just over a full column of definitions for “tether” in the OED, among which are those that suggest diametrically opposite forms of fastening. It’s fascinating to read through them, but not nearly so compelling as it is to read the poems in Lisa Fay Coutley’s tether. We are tied, ensnared, and attached—in an especially intimate sense of that word—to everything that matters, which Coutley knows and makes us see and, in the richest sense of this word, feel. This is a superb book of poems.
—Robert Wrigley, author of Anatomy of Melancholy & Other Poems