Nikki Moustaki

Nikki Moustaki is the recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts grant in poetry and the author of The Bird Market of Paris: A Memoir and The Idiot’s Guide to Writing Poetry. She has written for Good Housekeeping, the New York Times, Publishers Weekly, the Miami Herald, and the Village Voice, among others. She holds an MA in poetry from New York University, an MFA in poetry from Indiana University, and an MFA in fiction from New York University. Her poetry, fiction, and essays have appeared in various literary magazines, anthologies, and college textbooks. She splits her time between Miami Beach and New York City.

All Books

Extremely Lightweight Guns

Nikki Moustaki

Publication Date: March 16, 2021

$16.95 Tradepaper

ISBN: 9781597091138


In this bold debut collection, Nikki Moustaki explores femininity in contexts that grapple with violence, mental illness, loss, love, and relationships. She investigates these themes through a variety of provocative narratives, settings, and forms: from a prose poem about a gun shop owner ranting about the Second Amendment, to more intimate lyrical poems, to the intense stamina of three long poems that anchor the book in three striking and imaginative settings—the disintegration of an abusive relationship in a backdrop of often-surreally connected narratives; diary-like entries featuring three generations of superstitious women living without men in a strange world of their own creation; and a dressmaker trying to make sense of his changing world while dealing with his ill wife. This nuanced work is intense and articulate, crafted largely by shattering traditional poetic elements, creating new forms, and driving language that never surrenders.


“A tooth-paste blue Chevy Nova,” “the red bird of misfortune,” a rooster with “bronzy dino-feet”—Extremely Lightweight Guns is a riot of colorful birds, electric passions, and lyric panache. There is an incendiary delight to these poems, which threaten to burst into linguistic and narrative flame on nearly every page. Hypnotic and dramatic, Nikki Moustaki writes with the kind of assurance that lets you know she is a voice to be reckoned with.
—Campbell McGrath, author of Nouns & Verbs: New and Selected Poems

“I stand in awe and praise of this ambitious collection, possessed by an ardent determination to challenge our assumptions about what a poem is, or ought to be, and meant to dare us to rethink poetry and all its possibilities. Moustaki’s pure reverence and fascination for experimentation gives rise to poems that recast language, narrative, and voice, leaving us suspended, entranced, enraptured by the genius of her pure, undoubtable imagination.”
—Richard Blanco, Presidential Inaugural Poet, author of How to Love a Country