Paperback / softback
March 22, 2012
8.75 Inches (US)
5.75 Inches (US)
.35 Pounds (US)
$14.99 USD
v2.1 Reference

A Book of Exquisite Disasters


A Book of Exquisite Disasters, the first book-length poetry collection from Charlene Spearen, is an exploration of a multifaceted identity forged through moments spent as a daughter, sister, woman, and poet. A nimble wordsmith and unique spirit, Spearen plays with language as if syllables and words are musical notes that in the end creates an exquisite song erupting with mysterious clarity. In these idiosyncratic poems, she hones in with grace and vigor on perplexing subjects from her life experiences and uses the act of writing and creation to propel herself forward on a journey to question and witness humankind's beauty and suffering as an inherent song of the world. These poems represent a leap of faith, the courageous act of letting go and taking risks while remaining reverent to a sense of being a member of a family, of being a woman. In heartfelt narratives Spearen traverses myriad landscapes populated with people real and imagined and infused throughout with the many—and often familiar—exquisite disasters that confront each of us as human beings.


"Charlene Spearen's fine collection of poetry is a book about fate, doubt, and the aspects of faith by which we navigate the exquisite disasters of village, family, and personal life. Eudora Welty wrote that she loved her own fiction's characters; likewise Spearen depicts her people without sentimentality yet in tender clarity. She delights in paradox, opposition, uncertainty, even as she displays a keen sense of formal control and poetic design. Narrative and lyrical, plainspoken with subtle religious intonations, the poems in A Book of Exquisite Disasters make 'mouth music' that's rich, sonorous, and capable of twang as well as solace."—David Baker, poetry editor, Kenyon Review

"A Book of Exquisite Disasters is a splendid book of poetry. Charlene Spearen's verse has that uncanny grace of being able to engage very intimate and harrowing moments while finding the language and the metaphors to make such moments resonate even beyond their particular moment. . . . What holds these poems together is the clear and assured voice of the poet—a poet blessed with chronological maturity that has then allowed her to translate the wisdom of having lived many lives to the wisdom of poetic experience and understanding. We quite simply trust this voice for its honesty and humility."—Kwame Dawes, Glenna Luschei Editor of Prairie Schooner, from the foreword

"In these pages Charlene Spearen steps out of her shadows and loses her privacies and her good girl clothes to illuminate for us mysteries hidden in unswept corners and to poke and prod valiantly at monumental tempests like religion and family while letting nothing fall through her willing fingers. Spearen takes her elegant giant steps, pointing with every tool she can find—copper, beams of moonlight, a flickering candle, squares of silver padded reflective insulation board—so we might see and feel the full breadth of all of her exquisite disaster landscapes."—Nikky Finney, author of Head Off & Split

University of South Carolina Press
Palmetto Poetry Series

9781611170894 : a-book-of-exquisite-disasters-spearen-dawes
Paperback / softback
$14.99 USD

Other Titles by Kwame Dawes


edited by Kwame Dawes, Marjory Wentworth
Feb 2013 - University of South Carolina Press
$39.99 USD - Hardback
$19.99 USD - Paperback / softback


Kwame Dawes
Jan 2013 - University of South Carolina Press
$19.99 USD - Electronic book text

Seven Strong

edited by Kwame Dawes, foreword by Marjory Wentworth
Nov 2012 - University of South Carolina Press
$14.99 USD - Paperback / softback

Other Titles from Palmetto Poetry Series

Weary Kingdom

Delana R.a. Dameron
Apr 2017 - University of South Carolina Press
$15.99 USD - Electronic book text

Weary Kingdom

Délana R. A. Dameron, foreword by Ross Gay
Apr 2017 - University of South Carolina Press
$15.99 USD - Paperback / softback

Little Anodynes

Jon Pineda
Mar 2015 - University of South Carolina Press
$14.99 USD - Electronic book text

Other Titles in POETRY / American / General

Water / Music

poems by Peter Filkins
Apr 2021 - Johns Hopkins University Press
$19.95 USD - Paperback / softback
$19.95 USD - Electronic book text

Now It's Dark

Peter Gizzi
Dec 2020 - Wesleyan University Press
$35.00 USD - Hardback
$15.95 USD - Paperback / softback

Post Romantic

Kathleen Flenniken
Oct 2020 - University of Washington Press
$19.95 USD - Hardback