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ISBN: 978-1-62557-935-5
Categories Poetry


Publication Date: July 2015


“Can a book that’s deeply ethical also be charming? It turns out, yes.

Sulak’s geopolitical borders may be porous, but her wit is a taut wire. There is delight all through this collection-Gertrude Stein’s violent delightfulness. This poet strews coins, corn, meteor showers, and slender men in bright shirts. She also thinks through the most brutal things we do to each other. As lovers. As nations. As humans. Sulak’s gold isn’t adornment. It is Marianne Moore’s ‘unfalsifying sun.'”

-Joy Katz, author of All You Do Is Perceive, The Garden Room, and Fabulae

Marcela Sulak is that rare kind of poet who looks simultaneously outward and inward, who knows how to find the music in the details and textures of individual and collective experience. ‘Understand the world is filled with people/eager to bend/things to their will,’ she writes, about halfway through this musical, personal, political book. Decency is committed to understanding and recording the ways the individual operates in relation to society’s mores and harms, and in relation to the hurtling freight train of history.”

-Daisy Fried, author of Women’s Poetry: Poems and Advice, My Brother is Getting Arrested Again, and She Didn’t Mean to Do It

‘Dear Other Woman’ Sulak writes, ‘every morning now for weeks/ I’ve felt your fingers/ gently slide up through my throat/ as I awoke.’ And indeed, in these sophisticated, elegiac, wry, graceful poems, Sulak again and again performs miracles of ventriloquism and witness. Whether she is writing about Cortez or Catherine de Medici, the poems retain a deeply personal feel. Links to the poet’s own history are made with a wondrous ease, and each narrative opens out into a moment of universal resonance. As we move from the fields of Texas to the streets of Jerusalem and even to the horrors of Auschwitz, what ultimately holds this worldly collection together is a formal ingenuity, a microscopic eye, and a patient, compassionate voice that translates the world for us, ‘one grain, one blade, one pigment at a time.’

-Steven Gehrke, author of Michelangelo’s Seizure, The Pyramids of Malpighi, and The Resurrection Machine

About the Author

© Daniel Fainberg

Marcela Sulak

Marcela Sulak's fifth title with Black Lawrence Press,  a novella-in-verse, The Fault, is forthcoming in 2024. Her previous four titles include three poetry collections, City of Skypapers, a 2021 finalist for the National Jewish Book Award, Decency, and Immigrant, as well as her lyric memoir, Mouth Full of Seeds. She’s co-edited with Jacqueline Kolosov the 2015 Rose Metal Press title Family Resemblance. An Anthology and Exploration of 8 Hybrid Literary Genres. Sulak, who translates from the Hebrew, Czech, and French, is a 2019 NEA Translation Fellow, and her fourth book-length translation of poetry: Twenty Girls to Envy Me: Selected Poems of Orit Gidali, was nominated for the 2017 PEN Award for Poetry in Translation (University of Texas Press). Her essays have appeared in The Boston Review, The Iowa Review, The Los Angeles Review of Books, Asymptote, and Gulf Coast online, among others. Marcela Sulak directs the Shaindy Rudoff Graduate Program in Creative Writing at Bar-Ilan University. She also edits The Ilanot Review.    

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