This collection was selected by former California poet laureate Carol Muske-Dukes as a winner of the 2020 National Poetry Series and is forthcoming from Penguin on October 5, 2021.
“Teresa K. Miller explores startling territories in Borderline Fortune. She addresses the lines we’ve drawn and erased for centuries on the earth—that conform to the borders we cross and uncross in the mind. Yet: ‘I’m asking you to believe in what you’ve never seen or heard,’ she writes, refusing the mind’s limits. Here is the dark power of climate change where she finds ‘the future all danger, heat, & scarcity.’ Blake, Dickinson, and Hopkins’ Terrible Sonnets hover (‘birds build—but not I build’), above trees cut down and hope with feathers. The damage done to the earth echoes the damages to the protean mind of the poet—but Miller remains radiantly elusive, an escape artist in these marvelous poems of altered terra firma and revelation.” —Carol Muske-Dukes, former California poet laureate and author of Blue Rose
“In Borderline Fortune, Teresa K. Miller claws her way to and through her subject—loss in the form of ‘shrapnel and good intention.’ Awareness: It’s a hard journey. The human voice calls in ragged gasps, how did we get here? But unlike Rumi who blithely says, ‘Whoever brought me here will have to take me home,’ Miller’s voice has been dragged to this shore and pressed under. To write is to imagine, and Miller discovers in the going, in the moment when we remember that ‘every river had a first day to flow.’ Through Miller’s poems, we are given that first day, no matter what comes after. We find hope for another way of being in the world.” —David Romtvedt, National Poetry Series–winning author of A Flower Whose Name I Do Not Know and Dilemmas of the Angels
“Borderline Fortune feels like a book that was written to save oneself, to enact through poetry a means of salvation. Teresa K. Miller weaves together transcendent astonishments, precise images of the natural world, histories of horrors still present in the land, & personal revelations as intimate as bruises, weaving them into a single, entangled whole. Borderline Fortune is not a book that solves a problem, but a book that creates a net, a thing made of both solidity & gaps, open enough to be pulled through the dangers, strong enough to haul a body up to the air. This salvation happens in the reading, how the reader creates the net along with the poem, hand-in-hand, each one pulling the other to the surface, ceaselessly, with every memory of beauty & of grief. The book is a reminder that salvation is an ongoing work, for, as Miller writes, ‘In the end, there was no end.’” —Mathias Svalina, creator of the Dream Delivery Service and author of The Wine-Dark Sea
“The poems in Teresa K. Miller’s Borderline Fortune emphasize the greater context of our existence as individuals, as family members, and as cultures. Miller mines family as a construct, whether naturally related or collected. She interrogates relationships with the lens of a geologist, exploring the physical, chemical, and biological properties of the gravitational fields that pull us together and the elements that erode us. Several ages are explored by the poems, acknowledging the violence that must be present for eloquent transition and rebirth. The poems in Borderline Fortune are so sharply crafted, they serve as the pick and axe that dig deep into the granite of the past. Miller questions specific characters, many ghosts from the past that hold secrets to a history she is rebirthing. The poems shape a world created from the knowledge and the mythology Miller has extracted.” —Elmaz Abinader, author of This House, My Bones and cofounder of VONA
“In the sweeping expanses of Borderline Fortune, Teresa K. Miller grapples with the complexity of inheritance, the complicated legacies of family, history, and place. What created us, and what do we in turn create? How closely twined are belonging and betrayal? Here, history, identity, and the natural world meet and merge: a riven nausea in the cambium,/ some needle-leafed private anguish. Geography itself is sentient and responsive: lies twine into granite, brine/ into mineral creatures made of lace. In the end, the poems form a landscape we must immerse ourselves in, their movement as dark and unpredictable as the ocean or tectonic plates, and their story one we don’t navigate as much as survive: Haul/ yourself out,/ one frozen leg at a time.” —Laura Walker, author of swarm lure and psalmbook
1. verb, past participle of speed
2. noun, abbreviation of special education, also SpEd
3. noun, title of poetry collection by Teresa K. Miller (Sidebrow, 2013)
“Weaving these individual threads into a single plait, Miller’s form highlights her expansive entanglements, as well as her singular focused journey through mourning. … What a gripping debut Sidebrow Books in San Francisco has recently released.” —Katrina Roberts, Los Angeles Review of Books
“In sped’s last units, when many of the themes of the book begin to be drawn together, you learn that you have absorbed the fragments and made them whole inside you without fully knowing it.” —Dennis James Sweeney, Tarpaulin Sky
“Miller’s elderly woman on a bus, salutation to a love one, and Iraq War carnage described above all fit together so eerily well—so well that Miller’s implicit suggestion is that these consciousnesses and events not only can belong together, they can be and really are fused. More so than through simple webs of causality, Miller’s chosen events are so compacted they become interior to each other, already dependent in this new arrangement. … Miller’s Forever No Lo is a sleeper success—wide reaching and bold.” —Haines Eason, American Book Review
sped is available for purchase directly from Sidebrow Books, a San Francisco Intersection for the Arts nonprofit.
teresakmiller.net content copyright Teresa K. Miller 2012–2021