In the Tempered Dark

In the Tempered Dark: Contemporary Poets Transcending Elegy
A Grief Anthology–B
lack Lawrence Press, February 2024

Editor—Lisa Fay Coutley

Order or Request a Review/Exam Copy

Historically poets have explored no two themes more than love and grief because they are opposite sides of the same emotional coin that we will all experience in unique and often unexplainable ways. While other anthologies validate the necessity of the elegy, none examine the relationship between the body in grief and the body of the poem a poet crafts to recreate an individual, visceral experience of grief. By pairing contemporary poems with micro-essays, wherein each poet considers briefly the connection between their included poem(s) and their corresponding grief, In the Tempered Dark initiates a dialogue designed to engage teachers, students, readers, and writers. This collection doesn’t instruct poets how to craft grief poems but illuminates the bond between bodies in grief and bodies of poems.

In the Tempered Dark brings together contemporary work and voices that demonstrate the range of grief which feels urgent to twenty-first century poets from diverse backgrounds, at different stages in their careers, confronting assorted losses through various styles and forms. Poems coupled with micro-essays offer intimate and inside insights appealing to novices and veterans of all genres. This book will allow readers to identify with poets and poems to grieve and to heal, and it will also consider the relationship between poet and poem. Such an examination of content and form will show how poets manipulate craft, giving voice to what can seem unsayable, transcending elegy.


Black Lawrence Press


Erin Adair-Hodges, Susan Aizenberg, Rebecca Aronson, Ruth Awad, Carol Barrett, S. Erin Batiste, Sandra Beasley, Lillian-Yvonne Bertram, Malachi Black, Elijah Burrell, Janet Burroway, Lauren Camp, Victoria Chang, George David Clark, Tiana Clark, Aaron Coleman, Flower Conroy, Lisa Fay Coutley, Jessica Cuello, Ja’net Danielo, Meg Day, Oliver de la Paz, Jaydn DeWald, Sean Thomas Dougherty, Morgan Eklund, Katie Farris, Ariel Francisco, Julie Funderburk, John Gibler, torrin a. greathouse, Ben Gucciardi, Kat Hayes, Bob Hicok, Chloe Honum, Jay Hopler, Didi Jackson, Jessica Jacobs, Brionne Janae, Kimberly Johnson, Ilya Kaminsky, W. Todd Kaneko, Sharon Kennedy-Nolle, Vandana Khanna, Kathryn Kysar, Anna Leahy, Eugenia Leigh, Muriel Leung, Dana Levin, Aurielle Marie, Molly McCully Brown, Leslie McIntosh, Kevin McLellan, Leslie Adrienne Miller, Wayne Miller, Tyler Mills, Jenny Molberg, Berwyn Moore, Jessica Morey-Collins, Simone Muench, Susannah Nevison, Lisa Olstein, Emily Perez, Jeremy Radin, Jenny Sadre-Orafai, Diane Seuss, Prageeta Sharma, Sean Singer, Anthony Sutton, Alexandra Teague, Lynne Thompson, Eric Tran, Nikki Ummel, Angela Voras-Hills, Claire Wahmanholm, Allison Benis White, Jackie K. White, Phillip B. Williams, Jess Williard, Chelsea Woodard

See anthology events HERE


Human beings have always turned to poetry—language at its most sublime—for comfort and affirmation in times of tragedy. This anthology, In the Tempered Dark, edited by Lisa Fay Coutley, goes a step further as both an exploration and a balm for grief; these elegies and dark odes are accompanied by short essays from each poet. Together, the poems and these notes left by the wizards who made them, make this book a tome of acknowledgment, a testament to survival.
     –Jericho Brown, author of The Tradition

In the Tempered Dark heartrendingly attends to the exigencies of grief with a clarity that stretches beyond mere language. Just as poetry has done for all of human history, these works confront the meaning of love and loss with sublimity, intentionality, and intensity. To read this anthology is to finally see and reach toward one’s own humanity by simply recognizing grief as the ultimate expression of love.
     –Airea D. Matthews, author of Bread and Circus


     Harbor Review  (by Katie Richards) “This anthology does the delicate, brilliant work of allowing poets and readers to sit together in and with their grief.”

      Fugue  (by Judith Harris) — “The dead may be soundless, but in this collection they are singing.”