Deposition Poems

Katie Ford

Graywolf Press




72 Pages



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In this dazzling debut, Ford's poems confront God in a language that is by turns shifting, ecstatic, brilliant, and complex—a language, in other words, befitting any and all divine encounters. In "A Woman Wipes the Face of Jesus," we read: "This comes out of folklore. / Invented because tenderness at times / must be written in. There was a woman. / There was a cross. But in fact / they have hung him too high / to be touched."


Praise for Deposition

"Moving and mysterious, the poems in Katie Ford's first collection possess the veiled brillance of stained glass windows seen at night. Ford's central subject is trauma, and in a series of coded narratives she explores family abuse, medical torment, and the Crucifixion. But Ford's deeper theme is the spiritual cost of survival. In one poem, Christ's cross becomes a loom: 'Ask the loom / what is it like to have things made over you? / Belief and doubt on the form of faces. / Ask the faces which is which?' Ford conveys such insights with a thrilling verbal dexterity, alternating compacted similies with extended strings of alternating clauses—conjuring with these shifting structures the meditative terror of consciousness. Throughout, a deep empathy grounds Ford's ideas. In 'Largeness Like a Hand Over a Mouth,' the narrator clears frozen leaves as she listens to a companion's disturbing confession, only to discover as she begins her labor, 'If I lift one they all begin to lift.'"—Emily Nussbaum, The New York Times Book Review

"Explores an altogether grittier, more disturbing register of American violence and Christian belief . . . Much of Ford's work anatomizes her very own, and very striking, fascination with first things, last things, and the problem of evil. Especially compelling are several long-lined poems entitled 'Last Breath.'"—Publishers Weekly

"Rarely is poetry of such extremity—extremity of experience, extremity of spiritual practice and insight—presented in a style which manages to both horrify and still break the heart, and, if not soothe, then at least find those reaches in the reader where there is compassion so open it awaits no recompense."—Jorie Graham

"Ford's poems locate the soul exactly where studies of trauma and the 'postmodern sublime' would find it: as the trace of a cloud of force that has passed through us, leaving each atom a 'crisis,' deposed. Deposition remakes poetry as extremity."—Calvin Bedient

"Ford is young, vibrant, evocative, and brilliant. Her images are powerful, her insights into life are stunning."—John Shelby Spong, author of A New Christianity for a New World

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  • Katie Ford

  • Katie Ford grew up in Oregon and was educated at Whitman College and Harvard University, where she studied theology and poetry and received a master of divinity degree. She currently studies and teaches poetry at the University of Iowa.