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Golden Hour Books

Your Dazzling Death: Poems by Cass Donish (9/3/24)

Your Dazzling Death: Poems by Cass Donish (9/3/24)

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Written in the devastating aftermath of a partner's suicide, this unprecedented collection is a restorative memorial act, an exploration of queer time, and a powerful expression of nonbinary and trans love in the wake of traumatic loss. "suddenly a brilliant red-tailed star / flew across the sky, a sun reversing time, / I crossed one world to another / I stood with her in the other world"

Queer writers Cass Donish and Kelly Caldwell were life partners, exploring their evolving gender identities together, writing poems side by side, and navigating Caldwell's severe bipolar disorder until her death by suicide in 2020. In Your Dazzling Death, Donish insists that the intimacy of an ongoing conversation with a beloved mysteriously continues after loss; they elegize Caldwell and summon the courage to witness their own state of "obliteration," widowed and isolated as a global pandemic is unfolding. With searing honesty and profound perceptiveness, Donish finds a fierce new aesthetic for the disorientation of grief. "Let me paint this / entire country / the colors of your face," they write, showing how wildly scale can shift in the midst of loss. Against the backdrop of "anti-trans bills / moving through state legislatures," Donish affirms the beauty of their lover's trans becoming, recalling when they "sounded out / your new potential names / until we found those syllables ...which tasted, you said, like having / a future." In the sequence "Kelly in Violet," the centerpiece of this collection, the story of Caldwell's death emerges in conversation with the work of Uruguayan poet Marosa di Giorgio, whose words allow Donish to access the shattering event, appearing here in ghostly traces. Your Dazzling Death memorializes a brilliant woman, ritualizes the work of grief, and subverts linear time, asserting that any shape the future takes will be informed forever by a monumental love that is still alive, not only in the past, but in an envisioned space of timelessness where love and grief are inevitably intertwined.

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