The poems in Lisa C. Krueger’s Talisman interrogate the everyday expression of complex human emotions. In psychological portraits stunning in their precision, Krueger brings her observational powers to bear on the domestic and its darknesses—childbirth, play, sex, and family picnics, as well as abuse, disability, adultery, and mental illness. We see how intimacy is laced with uncertainty, how the bonds between us can be a form of bondage. Life’s long arc is considered, from the early developmental stages of attachment and individuation to the existential dramas of purpose and meaning in middle and old age. What emerges is a study in the mystery of survival, in how we move beyond the broken places in ourselves. These poems magnify small, everyday redemptions as signs—talismans—of human potential, and ask us to think about our choices, to use language as a force to press against truth.


“Lisa C. Krueger writes poetry of otherworldly precision. Her tiniest observations resonate with galvanic force. In this collection, rational thought is turned into exquisite music to invent a kind of new language with which to express the human experience. A cane, a broken tail; flat champagne and a safety pin; everything becomes a talisman—magical, ominous, life-changing. There is hardly a line, let alone a poem, in this collection that isn’t surprising, memorable, and important.”—Laura Kasischke

“The wisdom and lyric grace in these new poems remind me of all that I have come to love about Lisa C. Krueger’s work. They are quiet, and they hum with precision, like exquisite engines. But they are quick, darting, capable of astounding leaps; they lift off from one place and land in another, and suddenly I realize that I have traveled a great distance upon or within them. Yes, this is the deft and moving work of a poet who has discovered how to coax and unravel the mystery within the everyday. But Talisman also represents a furthering or deepening of Krueger’s poetic agency. She is writing with even greater fearlessness, candor and wit about what it means to be human, to live subject to love, memory, desire, and regret. These poems give me heart. Very often in their lines, I feel ‘the world / opening its arms.’”—Tracy K. Smith

Lisa C. Krueger ( Author Website )

Publication Date: April 15, 2014

Genre/Imprint: Poetry, Red Hen Press

$17.95 Tradepaper

Shop: Red Hen, Bookshop, Barnes & Noble

ISBN: 978-1-59709-271-5

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Lisa Krueger’s Marvelous New Collection

Barrett Warner of Coal Hill Review recently called Lisa Krueger's newest poetry collection, Talisman, a "marvel", praising its imagery and metaphor of personal experiences used to help readers heal. Warner […]