32 Books in 32 Days – Day Fourteen: Unrest

Each day leading up to the April 17 announcement of the 22nd Annual Minnesota Book Awards, we highlight one of the thirty-two finalists. Today, we feature


Poetry Finalist,
Joanna Rawson

Excerpt from an interview with Joanna Rawson:

“It seems important to keep on using the language (of poetry) in flexible, expressive, surprising ways. It gives exercise to what we say — good poetry gives great shapeliness and elasticity and expanded boundaries to the language, and keeps it exciting when merchandising, marketing and selling try so hard to reduce and kill it. New media will be old media quickly. Who knows what’s next. Poetry’s never old-fashioned in this sense — poetry always finds ways to ride the waves, even and maybe especially the technological ones.” – Joanna Rawson

In this collection, nothing less than the entire world is at risk of catastrophe, risk of both hellish and heavenly transformations. The poems are restless meditations on American life, political borders, lawlessness, parenthood, and the spaces where the natural world and human turmoil come into conflict.


Joanna Rawson is the author of Quarry, winner of the Associated Writers and Writing Programs’ Award Series in Poetry. Her work has appeared in American Poetry Review, Antioch Review, Mother Jones, Nimrod, and Salon. She writes for Public Art Review, Utne Magazine, and other periodicals, and works as a Master Gardener in Northfield Minnesota, where she lives with her husband and their two little girls.


“This is an absolute powerhouse of a collection. It stays together, it weaves. It is strong throughout. She tackles ageless themes and current events together with agility and stunning lines.” – Minnesota Book Awards Judge

“Each open flower is an overthrow. Every instance of birdsong decries the cruel suicides. In Joanna Rawson’s Unrest, nothing less than the entire world is at risk – risk of catastrophe, risk of both hellish and heavenly transformations. With visionary ardor, with devotional precision, Rawson is writing poetry addressed to our deepest concerns.” – Donald Revell

“Joanna Rawson’s poems tend toward the immediate, her shattered narratives describing a landscape that is swollen and overripe, ready to burst. These are violent poems, not in the sense of voyeurism or titillation, but in terms of a society on the brink of coming apart: the detonation of the pastoral, erotic affairs heading for annihilation, transcendence laced with despair and resignation.” – Arthur Vogelsang


Award winners will be announced at the 22nd Annual Minnesota Book Awards Gala on Saturday, April 17, at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, in downtown Saint Paul. The opening reception begins at 6:30 p.m.; followed by the awards ceremony at 8 p.m. Tickets are $40 and are available by clicking here or calling 651-222-3242.

Have you read Unrest? What are your thoughts? Did you vote for the Readers’ Choice Award? We welcome your comments!

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