Dear Outsiders explores how we are part of and stranger to our environments and to our families and how identities form by where and who we come from. Told through two siblings’ perspectives of the loss of their parents, the book is a map of isolation, longing, and what it means to be deserted and alive.
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About the Author
Sadre-Orafai is an Iranian Mexican American poet and writer. She is the co-author of Book of Levitations and the author of Malak and Paper, Cotton, Leather. Her poetry has appeared in Cream City Review, Ninth Letter, The Cortland Review, and Hotel Amerika. Her prose has appeared in VIDA Review, Fourteen Hills, and The Los Angeles Review. She co-founded Josephine Quarterly and teaches creative writing at Kennesaw State University.
Dear Outsiders allows readers to wade into a world where maps become menus, a father’s face is a cliff, and a mother’s fingernails are circus peanuts. Written like a tender address to those who dwell on the periphery, Jenny Sadre-Orafai offers an accumulation of negations while questioning the unknown: ‘What’s the man’s name who names the storms?’ Using both minor and major sensory details, Sadre-Orafai provides a topographical color theory of objects that can only be perceived with the shrewd eyes of a poet—the blue versus orange beach towels, the two red plastic shovels, a yellow gold chain, a stack of pink roses, pawpaw, pigweed, and the mud that smells like dead eggs. Dear Outsiders is a book that you will pull into your chest like ‘the thread, the net, the warning’ that ‘our home is a snake with pulled teeth.’ Even though, as Sadre-Orafai writes, ‘water isn’t easy to read,’ reading or rather swimming through this book might be what saves you. I was willing to become ‘even more animal’ spending time with these poems. Are you?
—Alison C. Rollins, author of Library of Small Catastrophes
Jenny Sadre-Orafai’s Dear Outsiders is a lamentation, an intimate catalogue, an off-script map that mimes the chaotic regularity of the big, wide sea. In their evocative, ecocritical attention to seaside outsiders, townies, and tourists, these interlocking vignettes prompt readers to relearn the language of landscape, love, and, relatedly, the impermanent cadence of our existence. Here the mysteriousness of nature lives within the details of the human body, in the intricacies of our most intimate relationships across time. While reading, I felt I embarked on a deep, urgent journey with Sadre-Orafai—one that provokes an estrangement from symptoms of our everyday inattention, one that lays achingly bare all that we take for granted on this finite Earth.
—Jessica Q. Stark, author of Savage Pageant and Buffalo Girl
With crystalline precision, Jenny Sadre-Orafai’s Dear Outsiders immerses us in the dream-logic of childhood. A strange, surreal plunge into underwater domesticity, orphanhood, and grief, Sadre-Orafai’s lyric prose is a tidal force, weaving a syntax that pushes and pulls the reader through the terror of absence and estrangement. Spoken through a plural first-person we, Sadre-Orafai invents a grammar of connected memory and collective loss, the act of remembering itself a fugue state in which the undertow of grief “is the rip that sweeps bodies under and into [our chests].” A singular, haunting collection.
—Vanessa Angélica Villareal, author of Beast Meridian
Reviews, Interviews & Features
Poem Feature in The Indianapolis Review– Listen to “Here, in the Summer”
Spring 2023 Poetry Announcement in Publishers Weekly- https://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/new-titles/adult-announcements/article/91045-spring-2023-announcements-poetry.html