All the Emergency-Type Structures (Inlandia Institute)
*Regional Winner of the 2018 Hillary Gravendyk Prize*
These poems navigate both cultural anxieties—climate change, American consumerism, technological creep—and personal anxieties—motherhood, apocalyptic thinking, suburban complacency. What does it mean to face a future in which building emergency-type structures may be necessary for our survival, and what materials can we use to insulate those structures?
All the Emergency-Type Structures guides readers through a lyrical and incisive examination of a potential way to navigate scientifically-predicted apocalyptic visions, the destructive beauty of family, and the dense forests of our collective cultural uncertainties as we attempt to create spaces that feel like home amid rising seas, private space expeditions to Mars, births, breakups, terrifying dreams, and mass extinction events.
Praise for All the Emergency-Type Structures:
“Elizabeth Cantwell’s All the Emergency-Type Structures is the first book I’ve read in a long time that feels like a direct transcription of the hellish beauty of living. Humans measure time by the pauses between disasters, and Cantwell’s poems register quotidian disappointments and the slow catastrophe of the epoch equally well. When everything is on fire, what do we choose to save? What do we choose to say? Cantwell tells us ‘you may erect / a shelter using only carefully chosen language,’ but she never pretends living in it is easy.” —Rebecca Hazelton, author of Gloss, Fair Copy, and Vow
"The poems of Elizabeth Cantwell’s breathtaking second collection, All the Emergency-Type Structures, are brilliant cries—and acts—of defiance against what seems to be our inevitable erasure from this planet. These poignant elegies-in-advance of apocalypse expose the ways even science has failed us, failed to provide the necessary paradigm to understand our own mortal recklessness. Underneath the expansive canopy of space, earthly landscapes grow increasingly inhospitable to human kind and our presence seems increasingly irrelevant, even banal. Elizabeth Cantwell’s luminous intelligence and signature, angular wit reverberate through this poetic survival manual for our own futures. As we ricochet between cosmic and evolutionary angst, we may perhaps be consoled by this stunning book of both ancient times and end times.”—David St. John, author of The Last Troubadour, The Window, and Study for the World’s Body
“All the Emergency-Type Structures is lyrically post-apocalyptic. It provokes and unsettles. Elizabeth Cantwell’s work is visceral and charged with danger, an electrifying account of life in a precarious world.”—Emily Anthes, author of Frankenstein’s Cat
Elizabeth Cantwell is a poet and teacher living in Claremont, CA, with her husband and their two sons. She teaches Humanities at The Webb Schools, where she works to convince students of the beauty of Tolstoy's vision, the perfection of Fitzgerald's sentences, and the social necessity of horror. Her poetry has appeared in a variety of journals, including DIAGRAM, The Cincinnati Review, The Los Angeles Review, Hobart, and The Missouri Review.
Her first book of poems, Nights I Let The Tiger Get You (Black Lawrence Press, 2014), was a finalist for the 2012 Hudson Prize; she is also the author of a chapbook, Premonitions (Grey Book Press, 2014). Her second book, All the Emergency-Type Structures (Inlandia Institute, 2019), was a finalist for the National Poetry Series and the regional winner of the 2018 Hillary Gravendyk Prize.