Song & Error Poems

Averill Curdy

Farrar, Straus and Giroux



Trade Paperback

112 Pages



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A sparrow like a "fumbled punch line" is lost in an airport; a man translating Ovid is transfigured by witnessing a massacre in Jamestown in 1621; a woman smiles seductively as the skin on her back is opened out like a wing; a lizard upon a laptop shimmers with the true life, primitive and binary, of our modern information age.

In the sonically rich, formally restless poems of this debut collection, Song & Error, the thread that unravels all we think we know of the world is plucked loose and drawn from a seal's beached corpse. Uniting past and present, history and autobiography, Averill Curdy's poems strive to endure within "the crease of transformation" and to speak—sing—of that terrible beauty.


Praise for Song & Error

"Curdy is a poet in the highest order. Her musicality finds its counterparts in Auden, Donne, Hopkins, and Merrill, to whom she seems to have apprenticed her syntax and ear. But there is something else in her writing that is entirely her own, an almost excessive pleasure in texture and alliteration that has been unfashionable in poetry of late. Curdy's precisely conjured images and similes transform the mundane into the metaphysical."—Maya Catherine Popa, The Rumpus

"Song & Error is a worthy debut collection that rewards multiple readings. It's a rich mixture of poems that revel in their language and ideas, their combination of real and imagined, of present day and history, that, while sometimes dense, sometimes obscure, sometimes confounding, nevertheless present enough striking images, precisely fashioned phrases and intriguing words to fully stock a wunderkammer of their own."—Adam Ford, Bookslut

"This first book from Curdy gets elaborate fast without sacrificing passion . . . Curdy favors gorgeous language and complex syntax, sometimes abstract but more often descriptive . . . Her shorter poems, and almost all those set in the present, convince by their cascade of phrases and their wealth of detail, reminiscent of Amy Clampitt and Lucie Brock-Broido."—Publishers Weekly

Reviews from Goodreads



  • Averill Curdy

  • Averill Curdy was born in the Pacific Northwest, where she worked as an arts administrator and in the software industry. She has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Rona Jaffe Foundation, among others, and her poems have appeared widely in both the United States and England. She lives in Chicago and teaches at Northwestern University.

  • Averill Curdy Patty Michels