Nicelle Davis

Nicelle Davis is a California poet, collaborator, and performance artist who walks the desert with her son J.J. in search of owl pellets and rattlesnake skins. Her previous collections include In the Circus of You (Rose Metal Press, 2015), Becoming Judas (Red Hen Press, 2013), and Circe (Lowbrow Press, 2011). Her poetry film collaborations with Cheryl Gross have been shown across the world. She has taught poetry at Youth for Positive Change, an organization that promotes success for youth in secondary schools, MHA, Volunteers of America in their Homeless Youth Center, and with Red Hen’s WITS program. Recipient of the 2013 AROHO retreat 9 3/4 Fellowship, she is honored to work as a consultant for this important feminist organization. She currently teaches at Paraclete High School.

All Books

The Walled Wife

Nicelle Davis

Publication Date: April 5, 2016

$16.95 Tradepaper

ISBN: 978-1-59709-725-3


A woman is buried so a church will rise. Nicelle Davis’s The Walled Wife unearths from the long-standing text, The Ballad of the Walled-up Wife, a host of issues that continue to plague women in the contemporary world: the woman’s body as sacrifice; the woman’s body as tender or currency; the woman’s body as disposable; the woman’s body as property; the woman’s body as aesthetic object; the woman’s body unsafe in the world she must inhabit, and in the hands of the people she loves.


“At the heart of The Walled Wife is an old ballad about the sacrifice of a woman, by building her into the wall of a structure under construction (!!) This practice was believed to ensure the building’s completion and durability. While the poems that compose the book take inspiration from this historical source (and from subsequent commentary on it) they cast a wide net, touching on mythology, feminism, folklore, philosophy, primal fears, love, entomology, self-harm, multiple selves, and more, riffing in ingenious ways on their subject. Particularly notable is Davis’s ability to get inside the heads and suffering bodies of her characters. She mines her material with abject, reverberant humanity. Graphically inventive, and necessarily obsessive, The Walled Wife breathes new, eerie life into a disturbing ancient ritual, laying bare its many metaphors and contemporary relevance.”—Amy Gerstler

“What does it mean to have a ‘soul in the building’? What is the space inside a wall that is also a crypt, an ‘immured’ beloved, an ‘emptiness unfathomable,’ an architecture that is also a ‘consciousness’? Nicelle Davis has created a remarkable and searing work of ‘red stains and white linens.’ Light, body, gold, silver, excrement, moon, sun, copulating finches, finitude: ‘You are not to blame for rotations,’ writes Davis. I can’t quite put into words the ache in my own bones, the pressure before weeping, that built in my own heart as I read, listened to and encountered her extraordinary work. ‘I am becoming red clay,’ writes Davis. From the inside of the book. Which reaches us. A cry. The particular mixture of longing and acute loss that returns us to our own human experience: the livid, temporary history of being here at all: on the earth.”—Bhanu Kapil

The Los Angeles Review 15

Kate Gale, Nicelle Davis

Publication Date: March 1, 2014

$16 Tradepaper


The Los Angeles Review is a literary journal of divergent literature with a West Coast emphasis. Established in 2003, LAR publishes both the stories of Los Angeles, endlessly varied, and those that grow outside our world of smog and glitter. LAR seeks voices with something wild in them, voices that know what it means to be alive, to be fallible, to be human.

Becoming Judas

Nicelle Davis

Publication Date: September 1, 2013

$18.95 Tradepaper

ISBN: 978-1-59709-239-5


The second collection by Nicelle Davis, Becoming Judas, is an “elemental bible-diary-manifesto,” that weaves together Mormonism, Mamaism, Manson, Lennon, Kabbalah, and the lost Gospel of Judas into am ecstatic, searing meditation on raw religion. Nicelle Davis is a poet with an eye towards the spiritual. Loosely based on Davis’s upbringing in the back-room of a record store in Mormonville, Utah, this unexpected fusion becomes a “spontaneous combustion” of matter turning into energy. In these poems we encounter Jesus, Judas, YouTube, Joseph Smith, Hollywood, the Knights of Templar, Missouri, Utah, a prostitute, turnips, libraries, and God. Spirituality and faith eventually become, like Mallarme’s “Dice Thrown,” a game of chance: “I know only chance. My feet will / won’t hit ground.” Instead of choosing a faith based in the material world, which becomes a roll of the dice, Davis embraces the non-material of a pure energy: Let there be light.

Praise for Becoming Judas:

“Nicelle Davis weaves–as one of her religio-sacred-cosmos ‘spiders’ pokes–the elemental, mother-daughter, Judas-Jesus-Lennon substances, meta-histories and neo-gospels devouring us as we disintegrate and are reborn to love this grand body-bible-book.

Hold this, if you can–devouring mind at work, singing razor-writer of stanza-line fractal syncopations into photo, interview, letter incantations; as Anne Waldman has said of her poetic conduction, ‘a new-beyond-gender fecund horizon.’ A new elemental bible-diary-manifesto, yes, and also a musical score of the spider-woman who writes in prayer ‘octaves.’ You hear voices–angels, demons, Azrael and Manson, Jesus and Judas, daughter and granddaughter–masks, sheafs, harmonies, and dissonances that few can hear, decipher, or re-magnetize through the ethers and ‘star compounds’ once our skins are stripped and hanging from the ancient suffering trees. Wait: there is Doo Wop down the highway as we careen with Nicelle’s genius magic in this grand, magnificent, luminous creation-braided-fleshspirit word book. You have to caress and then let all unravel. A cosmic whip. A mesmerizing opus, prize-winner, yes, all the way.”—Juan Felipe Herrera