Praise for A Raft of Grief, selected by Stephen Dunn as winner of the 2012 Autumn House Poetry Prize
“In her excellent A Raft of Grief, Chelsea Rathburn probes the varieties and nuances of love and relationships with unsparing lucidity. “Maybe it’s not the eye/but the mind that can take only so much beauty, or solitude, or pleasure,/ maybe we travel both to find and forget ourselves,” she says in this book set in places as varied as Paris, Florida, Krakow.
“I love how she’s able to affirm what can happen between two people, while asking if a story-teller sometimes has to “sacrifice lovers and selves to the narrative arc?” She’s willing to, which is one reason why her narratives are so persuasive – her allegiance throughout is to the poem as a whole. She will not let her fine moments overwhelm, as lesser poets often do; her limpid, yet complicated phrasing is always part of the poem’s fabric.”
“Chelsea Rathburn’s canny, nervy poems play for keeps. She’s a poet of disarming intimations and unflinching reckonings, sparing no pains in parsing a meaning or probing a pang. Finely wrought and acutely felt, the bittersweet paeans and flinty laments in her new collection ace every acid test of lyric poise and resolve, bracing and beguiling in equal measures. Great hungers, little deaths, lost causes, a whole shifting cargo of ‘rages, lapses, and aches’ – for all the burdens in tow here, Rathburn’s resilient craft is a model of buoyant aplomb. A Raft of Grief is a superbly accomplished book from a poet who has truly arrived.”
– David Barber
“Chelsea Rathburn’s second book of poems, A Raft of Grief, bristles with rage, sorrow, poignancy and wit.”
– Lauren Watel