Francesca Bell

Francesca Bell is a poet and translator. Her debut collection, Bright Stain (Red Hen Press 2019), was a finalist for the Washington State Book Award and the Julie Suk Award. Her work appears widely in literary journals, and she has received a Neil Postman Award for Metaphor from Rattle and an Honorable Mention in Nimrod’s Pablo Neruda Poetry Prize. Bell grew up in Washington and Idaho and did not complete middle school, high school, or college. She lives with her family in Novato, CA.

A headshot of Franceca Bell sitting in front of a charcoal background. She is wearing a gray blazer.

All Books

What Small Sound

Francesca Bell

Publication Date: May 9, 2023

$18 Tradepaper

ISBN: 9781636280790

Description:

Francesca Bell’s second collection of poems, What Small Sound, interrogates what it means to be a mother in a country where there are five times as many guns as children; female in a country where a woman is raped every two minutes; and citizen of a world teeming with iniquities and peril. In poems rich in metaphor and music and unflinching in their gaze, Bell offers us an exacting view of the audiologist’s booth and the locked ward as she grapples with the gradual loss of her own hearing and the mental illness spreading its dark wings over her family. This is a book of plentiful sorrows but also of small and sturdy comforts, a book that chronicles the private, lonely life of the body as well as its tender generosities. What Small Sound wrestles with some of the broadest, most complicated issues of our time and also with the most fundamental issue of all: love. How it shelters and anchors us. How it breaks us and, ultimately, how it pieces us back together.


ADVANCE PRAISE


Francesca Bell’s book What Small Sound is gorgeous, raw, and disarmingly honest beginning to end. Her poems encompass the scope of her life, her family’s life, plus her generous and empathetic assessment of the larger world. She writes of a struggle to be “normal” in the fiery, broken, unpredictable chaos she sees around her. With skill and passion, she speaks of love, of rape, of deafness, or of holding still for a tarantula, of why she doesn’t drink, of who left fingerprints on the bullets of the Las Vegas shooter, or of a mammogram that made her think of the Mars rover. Two quotes of hers from very different poems are unforgettable: “I can’t navigate to a life of before / and keep falling face-flat against after.” And still: “I want to feel what’s next / curled inside me, tight as fists.” Read this book. You will keep wanting to find what’s after, and you won’t forget any of it.

—Susan Terris, author of Familiar Tense


Francesca Bell’s poems fish wonder and gratitude and eros from a world brushed by grief and illness and violence. I celebrate this poet’s tender commitments to remaining open, especially after loss and even when tragedy triggers an instinct to shelter or retreat. In this way, Bell turns our degrees of separation into songs for contact. The poetic praying found in What Small Sound feels like the grace our moment needs.

—Geffrey Davis, author of Night Angler

Bright Stain

Francesca Bell

Publication Date: May 7, 2019

$16.95 Tradepaper

ISBN: 978-1-59709-861-8

$9.99 Ebook

Description:

Unapologetically sensual and forthright, Bright Stain explores desire, loss, faith, doubt, tenderness, and violence; and sex as experience, metaphor, and magnifying lens for relationships.

Bright Stain may or may not become the Sex and the City of poetry, but this knock-your-socks-off debut will likely inspire debate—perhaps controversy—as it inhabits some startling points of view, including pedophile priests’, serial killers’ and prison inmates’. Those who miss reading these breathtaking, visceral poems won’t know what their friends are raving about.

ADVANCE PRAISE

“Francesca Bell’s poems are fierce and tender, passionate, compassionate, disturbing and delightful. Wide-ranging, finely-honed, smart and surprising, Bright Stain is a compelling debut collection!”—Ellen Bass

“How deeply gratifying to see Francesca Bell’s electric, erotic, and completely ravishing debut collection, Bright Stain, at last in the world. For the past ten years she has been writing some of the most charged, subtle, and yet devastating poems in American poetry. Many of these dramatic vignettes are laced with a rare sexual candor and a whip-smart emotional intelligence. Bright Stain is one of the most darkly elegant and luminous books of recent years; it is, in all ways, truly a wonder.”—David St. John

News

If It Isn’t Broken: A Conversation between Francesca Bell & Justine Bateman

JUSTINE BATEMAN HAS LIVED in the public eye for nearly 40 years. During those years, she’s been a lot of things — actress, writer, producer, director, designer, pilot, wife, mother — but to me she is first and foremost the author whose debut book, Fame: The Hijacking of Reality, taught me to ask myself, whenever I’m […]

B O D Y features two poems translated by BRIGHT STAIN poet, Francesca Bell!

MAX SESSNER’s poems appear widely in German-language magazines, and he is the author of eight books of poetry including, most recently, Das Wasser von Gestern (The Water of Yesterday) published by edition Azur in 2019, and Küchen und Züge (Kitchens and Trains) and Warum Gerade Heute (Why Especially Today), both from Literaturverlag Droschl. He won the Rotahorn Literature Prize in […]

2020 Washington State Book Awards: Finalists

Poetry Finalists:All Its Charms by Keetje Kuipers (BOA Editions)Bright Stain by Francesca Bell (Red Hen Press)Hail and Farewell by Abby E. Murray (Perugia Press)Nightingale by Paisley Rekdal (Copper Canyon Press)Turn Around Time: A Walking Poem for the Pacific Northwest written by David Guterson; illustrated by Justin Gibbens (Mountaineers Books) Read the full list here.

Reviews

Francesca Bell’s WHAT SMALL SOUND receives a Kirkus Starred Review!

A moving and musical set of poetic works. Bell’s second collection of poems offers a portrait of motherhood, devastation, and hope.  The author­’s first collection of poems, Bright Stain (2019),was a finalist for the Washington State Book Award and the Julia Suk Award. Her newest book is a testament to her finely tuned poetic talent as she […]