Advance Praise for Orange Tulips:
In Orange Tulips, Joan Barasovska explores the perilous territory where, as a young woman, she was “neither dead nor safe.” We follow her out onto the ledges and lethal precipices of her own mind, then into locked psychiatric wards, where she battles a “death sentence [that] glares from both sides” of her family tree. In the halls of madness, she finds herself writing down the “accidental poetry/of overheard hallucinations.” These are brave poems, unflinching in their examination of a period of near self-destruction in the poet’s life. These are also poems that relish “the ecstatic lift/of strength and artifice” that poetry-making contributes to the difficult work of becoming who we are. A triumphant Barasovska emerges in these pages, enjoining us to “Admire me in my bikini on the high dive / blindfolded and in love at the same time.” And admire her we do, for being so in love with poetry that she saved her life.
—Victoria Reynolds, Ph.D., clinical psychologist and poet
Joan Barasovska’s debut collection, Birthing Age, introduced us to an intelligent and moving poet. Orange Tulips meets and surpasses that achievement. Embedded in this full-length collection is a kind of bildungsroman, an account in verse of the poet’s passage through the “unfurled song” of infancy and childhood to the trial-by-fire attainment of adult agency. At the center of the poet’s remarkable story is her late childhood, adolescent, and young adult struggle with mental illness. “Nothing lifts the darkness she’s in,” says the poet of her eleven-year-old self. Ultimately victorious, the emergent woman comes to “love this world [she] yearned to shed.” From the bravura realism of “The Penn Fruit” to the Dickinsonesque lyricism of “Romance,” Orange Tulips reminds us that a full life is always a story of valor and generous love.
—Maria Rouphail, Ph.D., author of Apertures, Second Skin, and All the Way to China; poetry editor at Main Street Rag
The poems in Joan Barasovska’s Orange Tulips are so powerfully teeming with visceral life, the inattentive reader might be forgiven for overlooking their consummate craft. Each poem in this collection is distinguished by the honesty of its details, its fully-rendered tone, and its careful formal design. The book itself is just that: a book, each of whose poems adds to the unfolding arc of narrative, never belabored but always fully present, anchoring and enlarging the individual utterances, until the whole is indeed larger than the sum of its parts. The thrill of reading Orange Tulips is multi-dimensional: Each poem stands on its own, but each participates in the unfolding narrative. Here are rage and grief, loss and pure bewilderment, enacted through a lens of honesty and love. Orange Tulips is a significant achievement.
—Michael Hettich, author of Systems of Vanishing, The Frozen Harbor, Bluer and More Vast, To Start an Orchard, The Mica Mine
About the Author
Joan Barasovska lives in Orange County, North Carolina. For thirty-five years she has had a private practice in academic therapy, working with children with academic and psychological challenges. Joan cohosted a poetry series at the independent bookstore Flyleaf Books in Chapel Hill and serves on the Board of the North Carolina Poetry Society. In 2020 she was nominated for Best of the Net and a Pushcart Prize. Joan is the author of the chapbooks Birthing Age (Finishing Line Press, 2018)and Carrying Clare (Main Street Rag, 2022).
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