a debut poetry collection by Kenzie Allen
forthcoming from Tin House Books on August 20, 2024.
Each poem examines a mystery. Each poem has its own Indigeneity. Each poem is its own cloud missive.
Intimate, dissecting, and liberating, Cloud Missives is a poetry collection of excavation and renewal. Like an anthropologist entering a dig site and unearthing bones, Kenzie Allen reveals a life from what endures after tragedies and acts of survival. Across five sections, poems explore pop culture—the stereotypes in Peter Pan, Indiana Jones, and beyond—fairy tales, myths, protests, and forgotten histories, before arriving at a dazzling series of love poems that deepen our understanding of romantic, platonic, and communal love.
Cloud Missives is an investigation, a manifestation, and a celebration: of the body, of what we make and remake, of the self, and of the heart. With care and deep attention, it asks what one can reimagine of Indigenous personhood in the wake of colonialism, what healing might look like when loving the world around you—and introduces readers to a profound new voice in poetry.
“Kenzie Allen’s Cloud Missives renders an unchartable landscape, ‘wide as a child’s face,’ in poems that enact Indigenous autoethnography and a profoundly embodied recovery operation. These are poems of revelation and repair, twenty-first-century poems that extend the work of the lyric into the territory of ‘elegy against elegy,’ love songs written to drive out violence and exoticization masked as love, and poems that wake to the desire to awaken. Along the way, there is exhumation in all its forms, of pop culture signifiers, from Peter Pan’s Tiger Lily to Indiana Jones, and revivified archetypes, from the ghost of the British Empire to the Evil Queen, harpy, fanged siren. Most crucial is the disinterment of personal scars and the violence they represent, and ancestral bones, ‘piled, piled, / piled; piled; PILED; PILED, / nameless, done in, / piled—piled—piled,’ each twisted foot and chipped skull a clue to an origin story and ‘a keyhole to let angels in,’ and the indefatigable voice out. Allen has written a masterwork of self-reclamation and survival through love.”
— Diane Seuss, author of frank: sonnets and Modern Poetry
“With archeological care, Allen begins a poetic and meticulous examination of the layers of life. Often surprising, these poems ‘know violence / like it made me—rage / like it rocked me to sleep.’ Intensely scrutinized events that involve Native women are separated into strata to reveal a powerful self and a voice that seems to have been waiting beneath the pressure of years to, at long last, speak.”
— Heid E. Erdrich, author of Little Big Bully
“This incredible debut announces Kenzie Allen as an important voice in Native literature. Through impeccable craft, she explores themes of health and healing, Indigenous genealogy and identity, kinship and love. These poems are a ‘song against the song of our demise.’ May their missives travel far and wide; may their words bloom like sweetgrass.”
— Craig Santos Perez, author of from unincorporated territory [amot]