Best Book of Poetry Published by a Literary Press


Part coming of age, part battle cry, this debut collection explores the many roles women play, for themselves, for others, and traces one woman’s struggle to emerge and transform herself, while navigating the expectations and personal histories of four matrilineal generations and feminism (second, third, and fourth wave), as well as American Southern culture. The spiral narrative suggests the epicenter of trauma, however far in the past, continues to undercurrent the present. 

“In this deft and restless oeuvre on the enigma that is woman, Tanya Grae displays an expressive narrative mastery that’s unusual in a debut. These resolute stanzas are alternately fierce and tender, served up with an addictive skill that inspires awe and roots the reader in stories so many of us are afraid to tell.” PATRICIA SMITH

“In Undoll, Tanya Grae draws on a multitude of clear images and cultural references to steady the roiling emotional drama underlying her poems. For her fortunate readers, the result is a mixture of literary artistry and human cries of desire, disappointment, and anger. This poet has found a new way to combine a lively, educated mind with the naked reality of the body.”  BILLY COLLINS

“Tanya Grae’s Undoll offers us a world where “every choice goes on forever,” “everywhere holds a mirror,” and “our whole is/ a fractal of everything.” Here mothers, daughters, and husbands possess a mirror’s unnerving ability not only to reflect but also to distort. Grae writes with such aptness of metaphor, such clarity of vision, that she reminds us, too, of the pleasures a mirror can hold: the seemingly endless iterations of the self, the capacity for transformation, and, yes, an abundance of light.” MAGGIE SMITH

“Undoll is a book of edges and leaps that examines not just the body of evidence, but the evidence of the body, reaching for an identity from within and beyond the confines of “daughter,” “wife,” and “mother.” The restraint and release of Grae’s lines is skilled and sure, and her music works to press her questions: “Does all prayer have an end in mind?” “Where does oblivion begin?” “Who wants to act doe-eyed coy for some guy?” Tanya Grae is a remarkable poet, and Undoll is a stunning debut.  JAMES KIMBRELL

“In her remarkable and stunning first collection, Tanya Grae dares to name all the virgins and wolves that live inside the mirrored mirror. Her exploding metaphors bring us repeatedly to all the sensibilities of language that gather us into a clearing as still as the vastness of stillness. Undoll is an undertow of body, mind, and spirit roots that peel all the whispered spaces and places raw and exposed. This debut of poetry un-hushes intimate justice and offers a new juxtaposition of mother, baby, daughter, girl, barbie, lover, wife, witch or bitch, and a good face.” JAKI SHELTON GREEN, North Carolina Poet Laureate, final judge of the JULIE SUK AWARD