Sarah Messer’s Bandit Letters are an archive of rebellion: against coherence and for multiplicity. Her cast of elusive outlaws, who encounter the borders and borderlands of experience and identity, appear, reappear, and disappear in landscapes that conjure the Wild West, Colonial New England, and a pop-culture-strewn American present tense.
“So many originalities––of phrasing and figure, of temperament and tone––make Sarah Messer’s poems, and even more her poetry, a matter of some deliberation for new readers. But so dramatic is her attention, in each circumstance, to all these fresh starts that we are hooked right off, and thereafter not at liberty: such is Circe’s way with the barnyard.”
“Bandit Letters has the risky allure of the riverboat gambler, the alleyway drifter, the black widow eater-of-men. The cordite of Jesse James supplies its tang, and Bonnie Parker’s adrenaline lends it a whiff. But for all of its clever historical romping, this is a book about us, now, about our very human and very American need to flirt with the nameless dark stranger. It is smart, saucy, and dangerously good.”
Sarah Messer has received fellowships from the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, the Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing, the American Antiquarian Society, and the National Endowment for the Arts. She is a graduate of the Master of Fine Arts program at the University of Michigan. She teaches Poetry and Creative Non-fiction at the University of North Carolina-Wilmington. Messer has had poems published in the Kenyon Review, Paris Review, Boulevard,and other journals. She is also the author of the memoir Red House. She lives in North Carolina.