Out of stock

ISBN: 978-0-9826364-5-9
Categories Chapbooks, Poetry


Publication Date: August 2011


This title is no longer available for purchase through Black Lawrence Press, but it is available from most online book retailers. Better yet, your local bookstore should be able to order a copy for you.

Wholesale customers, please purchase this title through Ingram.


The wide-ranging poems of Katharine Rauk’s Basil are hungry. No matter their point of departure-the small room of a light bulb collector, a blood orange, a fragrant cedar box-these poems arrive again and again at the brink of the known world. Passionate, surprising, and wild, these are poems in pursuit of mystery, poems that are, without doubt, ravenous for transcendence.


“Haunted and haunting, lit by the distant flickering candlelight of childhood folktales, Katharine Rauk’s poems are full of magical smells, ambitious insects and weeping toads. She takes us on dizzying trips inside the body’s dark cavern. These grave and bright poems introduce us to an animistic universe of giddy possibility-hallucinatory, mysterious and beautiful.”
-Amy Gerstler

Some say the best time to leave a party is just before it peaks; leave everyone else in the room wanting more. That’s how this chapbook makes me feel-a basil leaf left in the mouth for the great untold adventure that lies ahead. Neruda our tutelary guide in all his surreal erotic gusto. Rarely has formal invention and variation felt so necessary. Never has frustration felt so good.”
-Timothy Liu

In Basil, Katharine Rauk offers up a flurry of searing images that is precise, worldly, near-angelic, and wholly sensuous. Out of the “unmanned / mansion of her mind” emerges a lucid stream of poems that this reader finds wonderfully idiomatic and sure-footed in tone and vision. There is a unique power to her imagination that movingly explores love, intimacy, and the natural world with linguistic flair and liveliness. I cannot imagine a more propitious addition and greater proof to our belief in what makes poetry essential to our lives than this book you now hold in your hands.”
-Major Jackson

Welcome to the pleasures of Katharine Rauk’s world, a world that feels as ancient as fairytales and as recent as texting. Here there is a mix of “rubied light” and “blooming dark” and everything is still in the process of being born, as if there were no DNA and the Creator continued to make each leaf from scratch. Be willing to be lost here. When you find yourself again, you’ll be new.”
-Fran Quinn

About the Author

Katharine Rauk

Katharine Rauk has poems published or forthcoming in Harvard Review, Georgetown Review, Paper Darts, Anti-, Hobart, and elsewhere. Her poems have been choreographed by dancers as part of Sandbox Theatre’s word/move project as well as performed by the musicians of the Willamette Jazz Collective. She teaches at North Hennepin Community College and is an assistant editor of Rowboat: Poetry in Translation. Her chapbook, Basil, was selected as a finalist for the Fall 2008 Black River Chapbook Competition.

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