Soft Volcano



Winner of the Saturnalia Books Poetry Prize, selected by Ross Gay

A feminist force, highly wrought and impressionistic

At the core of Libby Burton's highly anticipated debut poetry collection, Soft Volcano, are the vivid details underpinning the relationships we hold dearly in our lives. These intensely lyric distillations show us what we look like standing in the hallways of the museum of lost love—where we stand, how our hair looks, what marks of woe and time are left upon the body after love is strained or abandoned. Soft Volcano is a book of vivid and crushing lyric poems, each one a swell of danger, beauty, and truth.



 “Precise and haunting, these deliciously imagistic poems trace a line between moon and inner landscape, cathedral and body, eternity and family, love and the ghosts of adolescent memory.” — MELISSA BRODER, author of So Sad Today and Last Sext

“Nobody this full of heart can be truly fearless—Libby Burton transfigures fears into inquiries, toward the intimate work of understanding. In this voluptuous and shining book, Burton places desire on the edge between revelation and annihilation. She learns as she goes, revealing equal parts eros, despair, and a visceral yearning for the wild, weird moments which she then so generously offers her readers. — BRENDA SHAUGHNESSY 

“Libby Burton negotiates the minefields of domesticity, sexuality, and an examined inner life with her own brand of Dickinsonian lability. The result in Soft Volcano is a vertiginous metaphysics that marries intelligent verve with sensory verge.” — LISA RUSS SPAAR, author of Orexia

“Libby Burton’s Soft Volcano is a beautiful, strange and luminous book. Its language is so lush, so fertile, so wonder-full: ‘The sky nearly lickable in its buffed blackness.’ Oh I love that! And I love that the music of these poems is one of the stays against the sorrow and heartbreak they are also made of. As she writes in another poem: ‘the pulsing evening would contain both lilac and bird death.’ That’s about right. I feel lucky for this book in the world.” — ROSS GAY, judge

"Libby Burton’s exciting debut cycles between eros—“the weird lust of the everyday” (from “Bottle of Blues”)—and thanatos, as in the unexpected declaration, “A dead child is my unnamed god, dusty as a pantry” (from “We Are Married”). Burton casts out long, confident lines, one after another, each with a baited hook at the end. Readers will be reeled in by the collection’s stark agitations of the soul, quiet violences grounded by a contemporary vernacular and wit." — SANDRA BEASLEY, author of Count the Waves