Macmillan Childrens Publishing Group
Song & Error

Song & Error


Averill Curdy

Farrar, Straus and Giroux


Trade Paperback

A lush, lyrical debut from a vibrant new poetic voice

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.

Society of Midland Authors Book Awards - Nominee, Slate Book Review Best Books of the Year


Praise for Song & Error

“Throughout this long-awaited debut, Curdy constructs a realistic surface of her inner life, whereby daily perceptions--mediated through her immersion in art and aesthetics, apocrypha, historical facts, classical literature, and Americana--merge into a careful sounding of human redemption and grace . . . Curdy's intellect is engaging enough that she never betrays her gift through ornamental pretension or prettified artifacts of language . . . Such witty and unsentimental observations get at the substance and nuance of the natural order, or simply what it truly means to feel the world around us.” —Major Jackson, The New York Times Book Review

“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

“Averill Curdy navigates a ‘route between suffering and song' in this splendid book of passages, this ardent collection of transformations, this adventurous work of time travel that moves so fluently between the past and the present, her own life and other lives. Song & Error is a long awaited, marvelous debut.” —Edward Hirsch, author of The Living Fire: New and Selected Poems

“I haven't read a first book as fresh and lively as Song & Error in a long time . . . Any reader who loves poetry would be a fool not to read this book. ” —William Logan, The New Criterion

“Ovid's famous error has come again to be poetry's great gain. Averill's Curdy's Song & Error is a triumph of sound, sense and nuance. Poems rarely sound as good as these while still imparting such sustainable wisdom. This is poetry that, in its lush overheard pleasures, bends both history and our sense of selves as though they were magnetic fields and poetry the Earth of its magnificent domain. ” —Rowan Ricardo Phillips, author of The Ground

In the Press

Averill Curdy on What Brought Her to Poetry Wayward: difficult to control or predict; shortened from obsolete Middle English awayward, "turned away." I've kept a diary, more or less faithfully, for over 30 years. - FSG's Work in Progress

Reviews from Goodreads

About the author

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

Averill Curdy

From the Publisher

Farrar, Straus and Giroux

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