Andrea Scarpino received an MFA in Creative Writing from The Ohio State University. She has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and published in numerous journals, including The Cincinnati Review, Connecticut Review, Los Angeles Review, PANK, and Prairie Schooner. Her first full length collection is Once, Then (Red Hen Press, 2014). She is the author of the chapbook The Grove Behind (Finishing Line Press, 2009), is a faculty member with Union Institute and University’s Cohort Ph.D. in Interdisciplinary Studies, and is a weekly contributor for the blog Planet of the Blind. She lives in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.
What the Willow Said as It Fell
Publication Date: January 25, 2016
This book-length poem by the current Poet Laureate of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, Andrea Scarpino, asks the reader to sit with and inside the body’s many losses, to grow comfortable and restless in its vagaries, and to acknowledge the myriad ways the body shapes and informs our lives. Incorporating found poetry, including from her own medical records, and the ash and willow tree as mythological figures, Scarpino writes with lyric intensity from a place of resistance and questioning as she tries to describe, understand, and record chronic pain as a growing epidemic.
“This brave and beautiful book is not simply writing about the body—the writer’s own—in chronic pain; it is a deep inhabiting of it, moving through it like a landscape, using all the resources of poetry to stay alert, still thinking, seeking and responding at the point where language generally breaks down. Andrea Scarpino faces not just the drama but the tedium of pain, and offers us no easy comfort; rather, there is both raw insight and surprising grace. The writing dissolves the usual boundaries, between prose and poetry, medical fact and mythical imagination and—like pain itself—between our individual bodies and the whole surrounding world.”—Philip Gross
“‘Pain changes us / and everything we touch,’ writes Andrea Scarpino in her second book of poems, of chronic, undiagnosed pain, a suffering ‘when you always hurt.’ Images of pain braid with evocations of the natural world, deer and willows, pine needles and their scent, pain as always and only pain, red dust hovering, and no hope of transformation without art. A lovely and harrowing book you must read!”—Hilda Raz, co-author of What Becomes You
“With their intoxicatingly beautiful wordscapes and innovative use of language, Andrea Scarpino’s spare, taut, unflinching poems not only find new ways of describing physical pain, they use those most difficult sensations to chart a bodily narrative of love and renewal”—Gerard Woodward
Publication Date: March 15, 2014
In her debut full-length poetry collection, Andrea Scarpino’s elegies move between personal and political loss, between science, myth, and spirituality, and between lyric intensity and narrative clarity. At their heart is a longing for those we have lost, and an acknowledgement that loss irrevocably changes us and what we understand of the world. Blending mythological figures such as Persephone and Achilles, scientific approaches to knowledge learned from her microbiologist father, and a deep ambivalence regarding religious ideas of death and afterlife, Scarpino’s poems invite us to examine the world, our own place in it, and what to make of its continual collapse.
Praise for Once, Then
“Poetry never brings back those we’ve lost, but the best poems of mourning forge dignity in a newly emptied world. The craft, restraint, and lyric insistence of Andrea Scarpino’s poems give Once, Then an Orphic intensity. This book is gorgeous, and necessary.”—Don Bogen
“In these Orphic songs of grief, Andrea Scarpino honors those whose deaths break empathy wide open in us. Two very personal losses embark Scarpino on a lyrical underworld journey, where she traverses the atrocities we know as Hiroshima, Auschwitz, the Manson murders and others, in order to create her own ‘etymology of goodbye.’ With Once, Then, Andrea Scarpino balances private and public, the human and the mythic scale, thereby restoring our classical notion of the elegiac poem.”—Kathy Fagan, author of Lip