Recent Work By Jeanann Verlee

Photo credit: A Pavhk

You are about to release your third book, prey. Tell us everything.

prey is a themed full-length poetry collection centered around navigating a culture of predation. It details various predatory relationships from childhood onward, drawing parallels between human and nonhuman predators. The book seeks to expose the depth of trauma caused by physical, psychological, and sexual abuse—exploring what it is to become prey.

She sits quiet, drunk on her own anger
again & his despicable

drips down each fang just like
the bourbon from out his pores—

don’t misunderstand, she’s seasoned, racked up
husbands & guzzlers, & all she learned

from Mother who was no princess &
all the grandmothers dating back

to the Revolution & perhaps even back
to Babylon, too, the kind of ladies

Autobiography in ten words.

Brawled my way into the world. Survive is my language.

You firestar. Pool of moonburst.
You turned my skin to dust. Rawblade glasstooth girl.
With your hot rage and bus ticket anywhere.
Never saw a woman run so many directions at once.
One night, you shined so bright the police came to watch.
Your bruises and shirt-shreds. How we all just stood there,
watching you shimmer. Afraid to flinch, for a faceful of claw.
You are some kind of firework. Flipswitch blues.
Broken Sundays spent towing the boulders out of you.
The Brooklyn 3am’s, frenzied as an upturned autobahn.

Tell me how your first book, Racing Hummingbirds, happened. I heard something about a silver medal.

After seeing a performance of mine, the President of Write Bloody Publishing invited me to submit to their annual blind-read book contest. The competition was steep, judged only for ten pages of material, and I was shocked to learn I’d made the final round. The full manuscript went out soon after and the months of nail-biting began. The fact I was ultimately named among the winners – and would have my first book published by the age of 35 – was astounding. I had assumed I wouldn’t “become a writer” until retirement.

On your first date, do not hand him your vagina, polished and thirsty.
Do not allow him to rub your back or your shoulders.
Do not overdrink.
When he offers to come home with you, do not think of your ex-lover’s chest.
How it peeked from behind the open neck of a pressed J. Crew buttondown.
How you still masturbate to this.
Over dessert, do not think how smooth this man’s thighs will be.
Do not think how lovely their dark will lay against your sheets.
Do not ask to touch during sleep, it smells like love
and you have a suitcase to unpack.