In this lush, disturbing second collection from Melissa Stein, exquisite images are salvaged from harm and survival. Set against the natural world’s violence—both ordinary and sublime—pain shines jewel-like out of these poems, illuminating what lovers and families conceal. Stein uses her gifts for persona and lyric richness to build worlds that are vivid, intricate, tough, sexy, and raw: "over and over // life slapping you in the face / till you’re newly burnished / flat-out gasping and awake." Breathless with risk and redemption, Terrible blooms shows how loss claims us and what we reclaim.
"[Melissa Stein’s] sentences are beautifully choreographed; they start and stop the motion of her poems with a nearly invisible, effortless authority." —Mark Doty
"[Stein’s] electric apprehensions throb with this nearly preverbal knowing. They are rough as a hound’s tongue. . . . Stein is a new poet of the first order." —Molly Peacock
As you slept
I was thinking about the quarry,
about light going deeper
into earth, into rock, the hurt
of light hitting layers
that should be hidden,
that should be buried,
and how when it rained
for a long time that absence filled
with suffering, and we swam.
Melissa Stein’s debut collection Rough Honey won the APR/Honickman First Book Prize. She holds an MA in creative writing from the University of California at Davis, and is a freelance editor and writer in San Francisco.
“[Melissa Stein’s] sentences are beautifully choreographed; they start and stop the motion of her poems with a nearly invisible, effortless authority."— Mark Doty
“So many of the striking (and bee-haunted) images in Melissa Stein’s fine first book, Rough Honey, ultimately reflect on the honey of words… Here Ms. Stein reminds us that there is no honey — rough, or otherwise — without the sting.” —The New York Times
“[Melissa Stein’s] electric apprehensions throb with this nearly preverbal knowing. They are rough as a hound's tongue; they are honey itself... Stein is a new poet of the first order.” —Molly Peacock