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Winner of the 2019 John Ciardi Prize for Poetry, Longlisted for the Julie Suk Award, Finalist for the New Mexico-Arizona Book Award

"In Dark Braid, Dara Yen Elerath’s dark and disturbing debut collection, the poet crafts fables for the body. In “The Survival of My Wound,” she writes:


Will you tend me, my wound asks, as you tend your garden?

With a scrupulous eye for the body’s frailties, the poet crafts urgent and eloquent elegies and autopsies, the scalpel of her language exposing bone. In poem after poem, Elerath chronicles in spare and suggestive narratives the fairy tales of living inside the confines of skin, and exposes the feral underbelly of personal myth."

     - Doug Ramspeck, prize judge

Praise for Dark Braid

Dark Braid is a gift from the sky: its violence, its beauty, its endlessness, its suffocation, its water, its wind. The book reimagines the poetic line and touches our face with new possibilities of sound, rhyme, form, and image. There is something about the southwest and its influence on the poets who call its high deserts and big skies home; I think it’s the evening.”    

     - Jake Skeets

Dara Elerath is an immensely gifted poet who has written a memorable and highly quotable first book. I underlined many lines, dog-eared page after page. Her language glints and thrums and startles. Curiosity underscores her work—her imagination seeks new ways of seeing and understanding. It listens to ‘secrets told by cantaloupes,’ notices ‘violence against apples.’ It enters a glacier, its’ ‘milk-white center,' discovers ‘the coldest heart on earth.’ Dark Braid is a terrific book. I highly recommend it.”

     - Eduardo C. Corral

There is such brilliance in these poems—a kind of hypnotic power. Each poem is a pearl from another world—together, they make a necklace of unsettling beauty. Dara Elerath is clearly a brilliant new voice for American poetry."

     - Nin Andrews

"Dark Braid, Dara Elerath’s first book of poems, leads the reader into parallel worlds where beauty exists alongside the grotesque; animals, flowers, and food sit alongside death. Like dripping jewels, each of Elerath’s poems is a glimmering collage of images clipped from anatomy and botany books, old Grimm Brothers’ fairy tales and from the pages of fashion magazines. Mythic, and yet grounded in the contemporary, these masterful poems are delightful: a surprising and exquisite poetry collection."
     - Cynthia Cruz

"This exceptional debut from Dara Elerath enthralls readers from the first poem and reminds us: “This is why I endanger myself.” We live and read with the hope of encountering such deft lyricism, to remain with the collection’s speakers from imperative through disclosure. Dark Braid coruscates linguistically, whether we follow the lines down the page through rhyme and sonic turn or through sinuous prose poem lines. Celebrate this book, one of the most compelling new works from graduates of the Institute of American Indian Arts"
     - Joan Naviyuk Kane

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