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American Faith begins with its manifestation in our country: a destructive administration, a history of cruelty and extermination, and a love of firearms. A suite of poems precisely imagines the consequences: a series of “cancellations”―of government, bees, the color wheel, the return to nature, and the end of the world. The violence naturally extends to the personal. The speaker’s Romanian grandfather keeps wild dogs in case a man tries to steal his daughters. And what for some is routine can feel like an assault: a TSA agent wipes down a bra tucked in a traveler’s suitcase, adding, “prettiest terrorist I’ve seen all day.” Tentatively, the title poem casts light on the unexplored future, a solution that includes faith: “…the days, impatient, fresh beasts, appeal to me―/ You are here now. You must believe in something.

 

American Faith will be available November 5th, 2019. Pre-order here.

In these striking, memorable pages we are reminded that violence, both public and private, is part of what it means to live in America today. There are guns everywhere, in a variety of colors, ‘pink for girls to shoot squirrels.’ Even love misses ‘a shot for someone cute.’ At the same time, American Faith appeals to the senses with its strange and beautiful song. How does Popa do this? How does she find that keyhole through which the ordinary becomes poetry, becomes a terrifying and unsettling lyric hymn?
— Ilya Kaminsky, author of DEAF REPUBLIC
American Faith announces Popa as a debut poet whose compassion, intellect, febrile imagination, and sharp ingenuity set a new standard of literary radiance. It is wholly astonishing to read this artist (part heart-diviner, part brain surgeon) harkening her ancestors and making this poetry of witness, this powerful song of loss and rage and wonder and survival. That survival (‘memory, you crooked thing/ I do to the page’) is musical, historical, epic and lyric (Popa’s work inhabits at least seven of the muses’ realms) and gives voice to what didn’t make it: a childhood tragedy, shadows of abuse and violence, the destruction of a child or a family or a species. The book is a world-traveling, time-leaping historical document, each poem a pin on the map of its self-interrogating, wildly hopeful journey to the center of a longed-for spiritual justice.
— Brenda Shaughnessy, author of THE OCTOPUS MUSEUM
Maya C. Popa’s poems move with a confident, quick-as-dread sweep toward an alarmingly clear articulation of what it is to be an American ‘under/ duress by a language, its failure to imagine the present world or next.’ Her lyrics address our huge unknowns, when ‘The government is cancelled/ but not the body,’ tides of unsorted information threaten to sink us, and in the poisoned sea ‘the shame is that the parrotfish/cannot be remade from scratch.’ American Faith marries a richly detailed music to this careening hour.
— Mark Doty, author of DEEP LANE