Cauterize: to burn or freeze the flesh around a wound to stop heavy bleeding. In her sixth full-length collection, award-winning poet Laura Apol returns to themes of loss that are, at least partly, cauterized: her struggles with a conservative religious upbringing, her mother’s illness and death, children growing up and leaving home, losing her adult daughter to suicide, a worldwide pandemic, the casualties of age. With startling honesty, empathy, and lyrical precision, Apol offers insight into the ways some wounds need cautery to begin to heal. This is a book that will resonate with anyone who has grappled with the complexities of grief, forgiveness, resilience, and healing across time.
For more than twenty years, Laura Apol has conducted workshops for writers of all skill levels in local, national, and international contexts. She is the author of several collections of poetry, including Nothing but the Blood, winner of the 2019 Oklahoma Book Award for poetry and the 2019 silver medal for the Independent Publisher Book Award for poetry, and A Fine Yellow Dust, winner of the 2022 Midwest Book Award for Poetry. From 2019-2021, Apol served as the poet laureate for the Lansing area in mid-Michigan.
As I read the poems in Laura Apol’s newest collection, Cauterized, I feel them existing inside me. This is what I cherish as a reader—to have a poet who skillfully leads me on a journey with her stunning imagery of monarchs, cats, dogs, and the encompassing natural world. Apol weaves beautiful narratives of family, grief, relationships, and the rawness of life always with empathy, always while embracing the lifeblood of existence. She writes, Tonight I am thinking of those things / I didn’t know I should love, and I think—How did I live before these poems? The brilliance of this work changed me in the best ways, both as a poet and person. [Laura Apol has cemented her place among my favorite poets, and once you read Cauterized, you'll understand why.] —Kelli Russell Agodon, author of Dialogues with Rising Tides
The spirits that hover over and through these poems become entirely incarnate at the poet’s beckoning. The shades, of course, come freighted with questions. There are good ghosts, umbrae of their former or imagined lives with which the poet seems eager to reconnect. Accordingly, the work traffics in the essential rather than accessory dynamics of love and grief, faith and its failings—a brave endeavor, to bring such things to light. —Thomas Lynch, author of Bone Rosary: New and Selected Poems
Laura Apol’s Cauterized is a lovely collection of poetry. Rich imagery sets the stage through which the emotional reveal packs its punch. Poems of grief and loss, of the victories and failures within relationships both familial and romantic, of the vicissitudes of being alive in this wondrously tangled existence remind us all to pay close attention, to learn the songs of nature, and to fully inhabit the possible. Brava. —Pia Täavila-Borsheim, author of Above the Birch Line
In the opening poem of Laura Apol’s riveting new collection, the speaker looks for a lost dog along railroad tracks. The dog is “the last thing / among last things” and the act of searching brings her to a vanishing point: “to the place where the rails come together / almost out of sight.” Apol considers the bridges her father once built: “the kind that take a soul / across a stream.” She describes a voicemail message from her late daughter: “Those last words, curled like / a fist, like an infant’s ear.”] In Cauterized, Laura Apol brings us poems that are both intimate and honest; she gives us deeply beautiful poems filled with sorrow and wonder. —Faith Shearin, author of Lost Language