At the center of this stellar collection are three sisters and their imaginative fear of grief. Their great-uncle was bitten by a shark, their mother has a brain tumor, their neighbor hangs himself from a tree—and to cope with these very real terrors, the oldest sister creates an intimate fantasy world. We hear stories of a mountain lion that slaughters a deer, a transparent body washed up on a beach, a selkie who ventures to shore and becomes their mother: “On land her pelt was heavy / like stewed velvet, so she taught herself / to take it off.” The sisters’ environment of ocean and sand, forests and farmhouses, forms a lush backdrop to many of these poems. But later, as the speaker ages, we find ourselves in the mountains, in an art museum, in a spacecraft where a recorded voice “has the soft accent of someone only a generation or two removed from Earth.” The voice in these poems is the perfect mix of grief and imagination, quiet and explosion. Stay Safe is delicate and extraordinary, a powerful debut.
Poets & Writers, “Galley Crush”
"Three sisters are at the heart of Hine’s debut, which catalogues family stories and terrors. The speakers of these poems forge a fantasy world that combines imagination and grief."
—“Fall 2020 Announcements: Poetry,” Publishers Weekly
“Simply said: this is the renewable energy we’ve been waiting for. So attuned are these poems to their introspective nature and terrors of the self, their wild narratives, and linguistic spells, this book begins to feel like its own solar farm: each page, a panel of skyshine and wonderments.”
"Emma Hine’s remarkable debut claims as its title an impossible injunction: stay safe. What does it mean to stay, to remain, to arrest a state of being that is fully immune to danger, which is to say, to living? Hine circles this impossibility in poems of dark lyricism, ones commanding our attention to the body at risk: its hidden danger zones, its collisions and impacts, its relentless hurtle forward. Like the speaker in these poems, we’re made to understand we’re ‘not strong, not / permanent, just holding.’ Stay Safe limns personal and collective griefs with searing insight, showing us how mythology and language can transmute fear and loss into something redemptive, something of strange beauty. This is a collection that is startling in its revelations and the latitudes it traverses, and Hine is a tremendous voice reminding us what it is to mark an existence and to endure."
“Emma Hine's debut collection Stay Safe is like a rumble strip alerting her readers to potential dangers ahead, awakening us to the ‘quivering systems of energy and grief’ we traverse. The coming-of-age poems ripple with ominous sexuality and an awareness of loss ahead. Family history is transformed into near fairytale, and vice versa. ‘Expect sometimes to be lonely,’ a mother says in one of many poems charged with both love and loss. Hine's gift for metaphor marks these quiet hallucinations and keeps them free of sentimentality even when they pulse with feeling: ‘Waves touch shore in little habitual apologies.’ Taken together and singly, these poems become ‘a torch into the tunnel-end of risk.’”