Both radically tender and desperate for change, Water I Won’t Touch is a life raft and a self-portrait, concerned with the vitality of trans people living in a dangerous and inhospitable landscape. Through the brambles of the Pennsylvania forest to a stretch of the Jersey Shore, in quiet moments and violent memories, Kayleb Rae Candrilli touches the broken earth and examines the whole in its parts. Written during the body’s healing from a double mastectomy―in the wake of addiction and family dysfunction―these ambitious poems put new form to what’s been lost and gained. Candrilli ultimately imagines a joyful, queer future: a garden to harvest, lasting love, the insistent flamboyance of citrus.
“When I read Water I Won’t Touch, I dog-eared many pages, underlined many lines. Candrilli’s poems are intimate, nimble, glinting with tenderness and an astonishing lyricism. The physicality of violence electrifies memory, a refusal to conform and the euphoria of love sweetens the future. Language this good, this deftly composed fills me with gratitude. Candrilli is a fearless and brilliant poet.” —Eduardo C. Corral, author of Guillotine
“Kayleb Rae Candrilli mesmerizes again in Water I Won’t Touch, a work of acoustical grace, and the marvelment of lived-in joy through settled dust.” —T Kira Madden, author of Long Live the Tribe of Fatherless Girls
“With thoughtful contemplations on home, the body, and adulthood, Kayleb Rae Candrilli’s new collection is full of confidence. These poems feel secure in what they are and to whom they are speaking, and are ready to leave the past behind and move forward into their blessings. With tender words to their partner and themself, Candrilli’s new collection speaks not only to the nonbinary/trans experience, but the experience of coming into one’s own self and finding happiness.” —Electric Lit