Undoll

UNDOLL explores the ways we can be confined—by image, society, tradition—how we often play roles for ourselves, for others. Part coming of age, part battle-cry, Tanya Grae’s brave quartet examines how damage has an origin often lost along the way. Her debut poetry collection dazzles in form and rhythm, and points to nonconforming, that to undoll means unzip what doesn’t fit—and leave it behind.

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

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

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

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