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Rough Honey
Melissa Stein
$14.00 paperback
978-0-9776395-9-5
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Rough Honey
Melissa Stein

Selected by Mark Doty from over one thousand manuscripts for the APR/Honickman First Book Prize, Melissa Stein's debut Rough Honey is a startling, sensuous collection that examines the deep sources of art. These poems speak of fragility and power, the contradictions of pleasure, and the bruises we bear. With remarkable range, they carry us from a whitewater rafting calamity to the torrents of wheat on a family farm, from a peepshow's manageable storm of boredom and sex to a passionate fall from grace in an orchard. By turns buoyant and forlorn, Rough Honey's characters both long for and abandon the hope of true connection, of home.

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APR/Honickman First Book Prize 2010

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For Rough Honey, Melissa Stein

"Openness—of form, and of the receptive and longing body—is Rough Honey's central subject, and its oxymoronic title suggests the sweet and fierce character of desire, that compelling and dangerous sustenance... Stein's poems are lit by a restless and flashing verbal intelligence... Her sentences are beautifully choreographed; they start and stop the motion of her poems with a nearly invisible, effortless authority."— Mark Doty, from the Introduction

"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 wrought by poets in their work: 'the taste of your tongue / in your mouth is the only poem' and 'Pardon the bee who drowns in her own honey'... Here Ms. Stein reminds us that there is no honey—rough, or otherwise—without the sting."—The New York Times

"Rough Honey is a miracle of a first collection. Melissa Stein's sensuous articulation of the world from the inside out puts her poems into a kind of freefall—back into a pulsing, primal language. Her electric apprehensions throb with this nearly preverbal knowing. They are rough as a hound's tongue; they are honey itself. Above all they define and redefine the lyric poem, giving it myriad protean identities. Stein is a new poet of the first order."—Molly Peacock

"In this piercing debut collection, in language that is seductively alert and textured enough to evoke rarely contemplated worlds, Melissa Stein appraises splendor and terror with a lyricism that feels dangerous and original. Such a passionate vision deserves our attention. I am thrilled to see through her eyes."—Major Jackson

"Melissa Stein writes with the intoxicating energy of one of those ancient priestesses called Melissae and yet her art is as carefully honed as that of the craftworkers who carved the goddesses' altars. Sweet with language, tough with skill, Rough Honey is a stunning poetic debut."—Sandra Gilbert

"Early in her fine first book, Melissa Stein demonstrates her linguistic verve, her ability to compress and enliven language so that we're compelled to pay attention. But what I especially admire is this: as the poems become more expansive in both form and content, they do so without losing their high-level sensuous energy."—Stephen Dunn

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