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Our House Was on Fire

“Our House Was on Fire is an arresting, beautiful, and deeply satisfying book of longing, yet longing for what can never be known. And that gives this collection its powerful complexity: what is wanted or contemplated is tempting, but impossible. True desire recognizes what one might lose and also what one must give. Much is given in this book, much of the poet’s mind and honest heart.”

Maurice Manning

“‘I think yes. I say no,'” Laura Van Prooyen declares in this book of assertions and questions where danger lives at every turn—a child threatened by disease, a love passing through uncertainty, all the what ifs and keep at it of our days on the planet. Like music, these meticulously paced poems play over and over unto dark trance their observation and grief, again and again the natural world furious and spare until all seems to stand still. ‘Understand, the plot doesn’t matter,’ this highly lyric poet insists because her staring stops time. ‘I felt bad for looking,’ she tells us. ‘Still, I looked.'”

Marianne Boruch

“Yes, these are poems of mothering and daughtering and nesting and cuddling up. Hair is braided, groceries are gathered, leaves are raked and at least one breakfast is conspicuously perfect. But domestic?  Domesticated?  Not on your life. These poems are exclusively foreign, strange as physical form in the realm of the spirit, indigenous in a she-beast way.  “We’ve seen the falcon / ravage a bare hand, and from nowhere, the wolf / lunge to join.” For in this book, this house, in this house on fire, everyone knows where the knives are kept. Careful. These poems cut.”

Jill Alexander Essbaum

“It might be optimistic to think that great poetry can undo the mistakes of empty language and everyday cliché, but I do think Van Prooyen’s verse is the type that can reach such accomplishment. “Our Story in Snow” is one of the most gorgeous, measured love poems I have ever read.”

Nick Ripatrozone for The Iowa Review

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