In her groundbreaking and most politicized collection, Kathleen Ossip takes a hard look at the U.S.A. as it now stands. She meditates on our various responses to our country—whether ironic, infantile, righteous, or defeated. Her diction is both high and low, her tone both elegant and straightforward. The book’s crowning achievement, its anchor, and its centerpiece is the poem “July.” In a generous fifty pages, Ossip recounts a road trip from Bemidji, MN, to Key West, FL, with her daughter riding shotgun. Inspired by images that flick across their car windows and nurtured by intimate conversation and plenty of time to think, the poem has an entertaining cinematic sweep. There are poems based on bumper stickers, the names of churches, little shops. Traveling tests her beliefs, and Ossip fully discloses her doubts and confusions. Ossip is an unconventional, mighty magician with words.
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NPR, "While the Possible is Possible: A 2021 Poetry Preview"
Library Journal, "Books and Authors To Know: Poetry Titles to Watch 2021" by Barbara Hoffert
Ms. Magazine, "2021 Poetry for the Rest of Us"
CLMP, “A Reading List for Women’s History Month”
The Casual Optimist, “Notable Book Covers of 2021”
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"Ossip examines the United States in these meditative poems, the longest of which is a travelogue across the country. Her verse is rich with images of America, capturing its beliefs and defeats."
—“Weathering the Times,” Publishers Weekly
"This is one of the most encompassing and exciting books of poetry I've read in a long time."
—"While the Possible is Possible: A 2021 Poetry Preview," NPR
"Figurative language, especially alliteration, repetition, and metaphor, races through these pages like the balls in a pinball machine, gathering energy and grace."
—Library Journal, online and print
"The rich fourth collection from Ossip finds wonder in quotidian experiences and objects....[I]mpressive in its thinking and its formal dexterity."
"Critically acclaimed poet Kathleen Ossip's July offers a revelatory and lived-in reflection on tumultuous times. . . . With her athletic lyricism, turbulent layouts and wide-ranging subject matter, Ossip challenges readers to hold multiple conflicting and unimaginable truths in their heads at once. Doing so, she suggests, may not solve the moral or political dilemmas of contemporary life, but it is a start."
—Shelf Awareness starred review
"Ossip’s 'July' represents a candid and fearless portrait of the author’s voyage into the very heart of her nation."
—"July Review: Ossip Deftly Analyses Womanhood in Modern America," Harvard Crimson
"The way this book moves through time is so wonderful to me. It’s descriptive and it lingers for sweet moments before suddenly jumping to a new memory. It gave me the sensation of driving down a long open road with my hand floating out the window, breaking the wind for a moment before letting it take me."
—"Poet in the Mirror: Kathleen Ossip," Frontier Poetry
"Movement, attention, intimacy."
—"2021 Poetry for the Rest of Us," Ms. Magazine
“What’s a poet to do in a time when the great weapon used to suppress critical thought is a raw overwhelm of meaningless language? Kathleen Ossip demonstrates one approach in her brilliant July, which feels at once totally intimate, familiar, and also miraculous, unprecedented. Ossip writes, ‘Smoothly the current does / not run; smoothness can never shock,’ and then she shocks us, staggers and stranges and de-euphemizes the language to allow her readers to finally, at last, really hear it again. What’s a poet to say to her nation as it crumbles apart? ‘We need faith while the possible is possible. / After, we need hope.’”
—Kaveh Akbar, author of Calling a Wolf a Wolf
“Some poetry collections, not overtly, teach you things. In the case of Kathleen Ossip’s JULY, the thing is the true difference between reaction and reflection. This collection is a wondrous (in its multimodal alacrity and unruliness) and wonderful (in its Goddess-eye panning of the United States and its self-critical threading of one woman’s mind and body) reconsideration of pasts recent and distant, personal and national. Arriving in the current American milieu from out a period in history that obsessively lauded thin hope, our speaker in these poems can only question if hope is really there, or if it is even wise to gaze for it as though it is some sun blocked by clouds—‘I found my happiness not in the optics,/ a bit in the progress, a bit in the thinking.’ A welcome counterpoint of a book in this age of breakneck resistance and casual rage.”
—Kyle Dargan, author of Anagnorisis and Honest Engine
“‘Your ardor comes on like a pun,’ writes Kathleen Ossip in this constantly surprising, open-eyed collection, ‘making the most of / all possible significances.’ That she's so concerned with love in a book that reckons with political crisis suggests the peculiar depth of these poems. As she writes, ‘Boredom is a withdrawal / of attention. Pay attention!’ July charts something like the mechanics of human attentiveness, tracing the mind’s movement with maximum candor and in the process kicking open new doors of possibility for the poem.”
—Jana Prikryl, author No Matter and The After Party
“Helplessly encyclopedic, forever tender, unafraid of variety and willing to sound awkward in order to get real, this ample book unfolds ‘much joy and much happiness’ with its ‘what yes no,’ its depths, heights and desires, its ‘river of baroque pearls.’ ‘Anger better than complacence,’ the sequences here—first travel, then supple sonnets—find a Paradise inside and beside a near-future Inferno, a loving America that somehow ‘doesn’t fall.’ Raising a teenage daughter, living with and against her own white bourgeois privilege, touring the Upper Midwest and then the South and imagining ‘a ride in a Corvette,’ concluding that ‘Safety is something to give not take,’ Ossip’s work is extremely America, very right now, heartbreaking, not knowing what else we can
do: I commend it to you.”
—Stephanie Burt, author of Advice from the Lights and The Poet is You