The Virginia State Colony for Epileptics and Feebleminded
Molly McCully Brown
Winner of the 2016 Lexi Rudnitsky First Book Prize
A New York Times Critics’ Top Book of 2017
Haunted by the voices of those committed to the notorious Virginia State Colony, an epicenter of the American eugenics movement in the first half of the twentieth century, this evocative debut marks the emergence of a poet of exceptional poise and compassion, who grew up in the shadow of the Colony itself. Molly McCully Brown's poems are a chorus of women who’ve long been denied a voice and, disarmingly, those who witnessed—or inflicted—their agony. Yet for all the horrors it channels, Brown’s visionary book uplifts through communion. In her poems, Brown listens to the callers from a dark past and takes on their anguish.
“Molly McCully Brown’s first book of poems, The Virginia State Colony for Epileptics and Feebleminded, is part history lesson, part séance, part ode to dread. It arrives as if clutching a spray of dead flowers. It is beautiful and devastating.”
—Dwight Garner, The New York Times
“Brown's humbling and heartbreaking poems restore dignity to lives sacrificed in the name of perfection.” —Publishers Weekly (starred, boxed review)
“What fury and furious restraint, what elemental honesty crackles in this book’s spare, strong, skilled lines. It is one of the most astonishing debuts I can remember.”
—Beth Ann Fennelly
“Her poems imply whole novels and biographies and autobiographies—the ephemeral and eternal lifetimes of those who speak here.”
“This is nothing less than a revelatory debut that reveals how to stitch something undeniably beautiful out of immense pain and solitude.”
Molly McCully Brown's poems and essays have been published by The New York Times, Gulf Coast, Image, Kenyon Review, Meridian, The Rumpus, TriQuarterly Online, and other journals and magazines. Raised in rural Virginia in the shadow of the former Virginia State Colony, she is currently a John and Renée Grisham Fellow at the University of Mississippi.
Paperback / $15.95 (Can $20.95) / ISBN 978-0-89255-478-2 / 78 pages / Poetry
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