Half-Hazard (Graywolf Press)
Half-Hazard is a book of near misses, would-be tragedies, and luck. As Kristen Tracy writes in the title poem, “Dangers here. Perils there. It’ll go how it goes.” The collection follows Tracy’s wide curiosity, from her growing up in a small Mormon farming community to her exodus out into the forbidden world, where she finds snakes, car accidents, adulterers, meteors, and death-marked mice. These wry, observant narratives are accompanied by a ringing lyricism and Tracy’s own knack at noticing what’s so funny about trouble and her natural impulse to want to put all the broken things back together. Full of wrong turns, false loves, quashed beliefs, and a menagerie of animals, Half-Hazard introduces a vibrant new voice in American poetry. One of reslience, faith and joy.
Praise for Half-Hazard
“The poems in Kristen Tracy’s searing debut, Half-Hazard, are like films you see in your dreams. They feel palpably continuous, while their jump-cuts and leaps catapult you through a wild narrative terrain. These poems live on the bright edge where realism and absurdity meet. Tracy’s prodigious talents craft a world that, once entered, you never wish to return from.”—Claudia Rankine
“If you’re a rabbit or cow or mouse or human, beware this book—there is risk here for all who breathe. The cure? Embrace this book, for Kristen Tracy’s curiosity and resilience, her appreciation for the collision as well as the near-miss, her affection for the hangers-on as well as the thrivers, will engage you if this sounds at all like who you are or want to be—‘Love hears me coming and waits/on every stair’—and why wouldn’t it?”—Bob Hicok
“There’s a serious, addictive playfulness to the poems in Half-Hazard. The comic-inflected, subversive voice of this debut makes metaphors strike with the lightning of one-liners and turns of phrase turn transformative. Kristen Tracy writes with a sense of sustained invention that, poem by poem, gathers into a vivid, figurative fabric.”—Stuart Dybek
“When Kristen Tracy’s dazzling Half-Hazard arrived in the mail, I had been reading the critic John Berger and thinking about his claim that to deliver the true ambiguity of experience requires the most demanding verbal precision. Berger writes about authenticity in literature, and here it is, poem after authentic poem, as thrilling a read as I’ve had in a long time. Here is an unmistakable talent, someone with the verbal dexterity of a Sylvia Plath, who finds ways to stay alive amid the difficulties of love and loving. ‘The things we kiss goodbye make room for all we kiss hello,’ she concludes in ‘Field Lesson,’ just one of the many memorable moments in this first-rate debut.”—Stephen Dunn
Kristen Tracy is a poet and acclaimed author of more than a dozen novels for young readers. Her poems have been published in Poetry, Prairie Schooner, and the Threepenny Review, among other magazines. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband and son.
Photo by Andrea Scher
Thomas Sadoski has acted in a variety of television, film, Broadway and Off-Broadway shows including Life in Pieces, The Newsroom, The Slap, Law & Order: SVU, The Last Word, John Wick: Chapter Two, I Smile Back, Wild, The Mimic, reasons to be pretty, which was nominated for a Tony, the Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle, and a Drama League Award, Other Desert Cities, winner of an Obie Award, The House Of Blue Leaves, Reckless, The Way We Get By, As You Like It, The Tempest, Becky Shaw, which won a Lucille Lortel Award, This is Our Youth, The Mistakes Madeline Made, Gemini, Stay, Where We’re Born, Jump/Cut, All This Intimacy, and The General From America. Sadoski is a board member of the charity organization INARA and board member emeritus of Refugees International.