Stevie Edwards, 2018.
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“Sadness Workshop offers a graphic portrait of depression’s multidimensional truth—its folly, erasure, riot, shame, and terror. Stevie Edwards places it under the hot spotlight, unveiling every inglorious detail: “I held my guts in my body all day in the dark.” These poems look neither for solace nor forgiveness, but sight. “This is the story of a woman,” she writes, “who woke up fully clothed every day / and nobody got hurt.” From such quiet celebration to outright humor, Edwards’ precise honesty serves as permission to face—indeed, to be—exactly who we are.” — Jeanann Verlee
“Sadness Workshop almost leaves me at a loss, partly because I want simply to quote my favorite lines in favorite poems. Or perhaps it is because I intimately resonate with the long messy night of a womanhood where “Possibly she was a liar” and where life’s many sobrieties are so heavily tested: “I throw sobriety down a flight of stairs/until she bruises, admits she’s no god,/no good, just a sack of organs/quitting the earth a little less quickly.” Yes, possibly she was a liar, but possibly we all need “a guide out of the woods” when we are forfeit inside ourselves and other people, when pleasure and guilt are familiar bedfellows. Interlaced with recollections of trauma, herds of predatory men, youthful desire and the horrible sticky trap of drink, Edwards’s poems launch the hardest personal truths, no matter how gauzy. In “the very skin/I will die in,” the body receives all as symbols and signs. It is true: “To ache is perhaps the first human act” and “It’s easier to be a body/when I’m not watching.” The work of Stevie Edwards in Sadness Workshop does what so few books and poems can do for me: speak to my heart.” — Lillian-Yvonne Bertram
Stevie Edwards is the founder and editor-in-chief of Muzzle Magazine and senior editor in book development at YesYes Books. Her first book, Good Grief (Write Bloody, 2012), received the Independent Publisher Book Awards Bronze in Poetry and the Devil’s Kitchen Reading Award from Southern Illinois University, Carbondale. Her second book, Humanly, was released in 2015 by Small Doggies Press. She has an M.F.A. in poetry from Cornell University and is a Ph.D. candidate in creative writing at University of North Texas. Her poetry is published and forthcoming in Indiana Review, Crazyhorse, TriQuarterly, Redivider, 32 Poems, The Journal, Rattle, Verse Daily, Pleiades, Ninth Letter, and elsewhere.