theories-of-fallingTheories of Falling

$14.00 paper | 64 Pages
ISBN: 978-1-930974-74-6
Publication Date: April 2008
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Winner of the 2007 New Issues Poetry Prize

“I kept coming back to these poems—the tough lyric voice that got under my skin. Clear, intent, this poet doesn’t want to fool herself or anybody else. Desire pushes defeat against the wall, and the spirit climbs up from underground.”
––Marie Howe, from the judge’s statement

“Sandra Beasley slices her way down the page with precision and punch. Her haunting ‘Allergy Girl’ series will set off such an itch, I doubt you’ll ever fully recover . . . This poet leaves us to smolder and ache in small kingdoms where ‘even the tame dogs dream of biting clear to the bone.’Theories of Falling is a poetry debut rife with heartbeat, knocking headboards, and the most delicious thunder. Take cover.”
––Aimee Nezhukumatathil

“Sandra Beasley’s Theories of Falling has a vivacity and authority of imagination that constantly transforms her subject matter. Thus she can begin a poem called ‘The Story of My Family’ with ‘You’re a tooth I tongue and tongue, / tasting blood as you loosen, // testing the sweet root of the hole.’ Or announce, in another, that ‘sorrows burrowed in above the bone and bloomed.’ Despite their frequent sources in the darker regions of experience, these lyric tales are tonic rather than toxic and written with a jaunty audacity that is utterly winning.”
––Gregory Orr

“Some truths induce fevers; others offer fast relief. The unflinching, personal human truths in Sandra Beasley’s debut collection are worth the swallow for, not too long after, we awaken to both our healing and agitation. These stunning poems throb within our temples, as only a pure source of music can. Language—at this most dramatized and artful level—both delights and haunts us, right where it hurts.”
––Major Jackson

“Beasley does not grasp her poems too tightly. They are not owned, but shared moments of language. What is true is the experience of the language, the breathtaking effect of a sharp-focused lens.”
––Caroline Klocksiem, Gently Read Literature

“If there is throughout Theories of Falling the sense of a toxic stain, it is nowhere so apparent as in the long sequence ‘Allergy Girl.’ This suite begins, if not innocuously, at least in a frightening but familiar experience as young parents cope with their infant’s terrible allergies: ‘No breast / is safe, no cowgoatsoy milk.’ ‘They cradle me in Benadryl.’ Their mantra is ‘Don’t break the baby.'”
––Susan Settlemyre Williams, Blackbird

“Whether she is writing about allergy suffering or a philosophical analysis of American culture, Beasley insists on surprise and humor of top order. Her humor is witty, rich, and has the tone of a weary voice that has come to the conclusion that one must laugh at oneself in order to deal with the pain of life.”
––Jeremy Voigt, Rattle e-reviews

“Displaying a large, feisty ambition as well as the talent to realize it, Sandra Beasley’s first book, Theories of Falling, reminds me of something Robert Frost wrote to B.F. Skinner in 1926: ‘All that makes a writer is the ability to write strongly and directly from some unaccountable and almost invincible personal prejudice.’ Beasley is so equipped. Her persona cultivates a precocious apprehension of the nature of intimacy. She’s the one who cuts through conventional perception to reveal the deeper dynamic.”
––Ron Slate,

Sandra Beasley


Sandra Beasley is also the author of I Was the Jukebox, winner of the 2009 Barnard Women Poets Prize, selected by Joy Harjo and forthcoming from W. W. Norton. Her first collection, Theories of Falling, won the 2007 New Issues Poetry Prize judged by Marie Howe. Honors include the Friends of Literature Award from the Poetry Foundation, the Maureen Egen Exchange Award from Poets & Writers, and fellowships to the Sewanee Writer’s Conference, VCCA, and the Millay Colony. She lives in Washington, D.C., where she is working on Don’t Kill the Birthday Girl: Tales from an Allergic Life, a nonfiction book forthcoming from Crown.