Open Reading Period Selection


Available on backorder


Publication Date: March 2023


At the heart of all violence is fear: Lupine is a gathering of feminist prose poetry engaging themes of ecology, animality, and the human unknown. A series of interconnected dramatic monologues, the poems inhabit the personae of figures traditionally deemed Monstrous, giving them voice to confront and reclaim the violent mythologies that have so often been imposed upon them. As these unmuzzled monsters speak, the collection collapses the boundaries between the self and the subjugated other, ultimately upending the discourse of monstrosity itself. By exposing how women are villainized and sacrificed in response to cultural fear, Lupine offers a corrective to social narratives in which notions of the bestial and notions of the feminine are intimately entwined.

FROM Lupine


If asked, I would say be mindful of ponies because they bite, because their strong squared teeth are as capable of maiming the apple of a cheek as they are of crushing the fruit to a pulp. To me, it is the most natural thing to see a toddler shrieking, their soft body contorting stiff shape to stiff shape, making impossible their placement in the saddle strapped snug around the round of a pony’s gut to seat them a rider on its dappled back. Winesap, and Goldenrod, and Milk Thistle. Once I knew the names of all the plants, and then I was transplanted, and nothing grows where we wear a track, a circle hoof-fall beaten into earth. Resist, child, the promise you know is false. A pony carousel, a maiming. A virgin’s narrow lap, a nonsense song. Weakened to my own knowledge, I was drawn to lay my head down. I took the bridle, and now ridden, am biding time.


A good girl keeps her mouth shut, and a bad girl gets the sound smacked out, and a smart girl knows she will be punished either way. He brought his baby to me, to be fed at my breast, one of my own so fresh that alone I would reach between my legs to hold myself together there where I was wet and ripped to rags, a red paste that smelled of fever clotting in my palm, and the one born before the newest, who never took to suck and had not much grown though a year had passed, was in a basket by the fire, not dead though soon to die, though for days I had fasted and I had prayed, and when I would not take his child and feed it at my breast, we quarreled until he raised his stick and struck me, and the next day met him dead, and then the casks of funeral wine disappeared, and then, when his body was laid out, his house caught fire and burned and burned itself to nothingness, but I open my hands and they are no less empty then when I knotted them to fists. I will ask you directly, where is the power that proves my mark made in the black book, where is the reward for my soul sold, where is the wicked magic you are certain sure I possess?


A fang concealed inside a flower, Lupine has a mythological sense of ecopoetics, one in which nature is often vindicated, in all its mossy, sinewy, animal luster, for the violence we as humans have enacted upon it. Jenny Irish has an unflinching eye, interrogating “spectacle and specimen,” wielding a mirror against cruel and patriarchal abuses of power. This language of survival drips with “darkness as she welcomes herself in” to reconsider what has traditionally been called wicked, or monstrous, or other. Challenging our preconceived notions of narrative, Irish lets wildness pulse against the edges of her sentences, “obscene up close,” but “all a-light”—the reader is left dazzled, transformed.

-Jenny Molberg, author of Refusal

Lupine is a rare feat of a chapbook, in which the poet Jenny Irish dawns the masks of so many monsters to tell us vividly how our culture fails women. From shadows, we make stories” our speaker reminds us, and Irish shows us how the object casting the shadow is often the haphazard negligence we regard each other with. This book is a bestiary of deep lyric knowing, from the first poem to the closing, immaculate question that makes Lupine’s final line, what we’re given is a chorus of beasts we can’t help but think look like us.

-C.T. Salazar, author of Headless John the Baptist Hitchhiking

Just like the botanical ferocity that accompanies its title, Lupine by Jenny Irish cracks the fangs from the aggressor, reveling in a primitive magic where women confront and disrupt their default historical fates. A delightfully dark examination of fear, and interrogation of the cautionary tale, Irish’s collection offers advice that resonates from deep past into contemporary life. For example, in “Harpy,” we are told, “Girl-child, if you must hate yourself, let it be for lack of talent rather than the body your soul inherited,” while in “Witch” we hear, “A good girl keeps her mouth shut, and a bad girl gets the sound smacked out, and a smart girl knows she will be punished either way.” Resplendent with magnificent animals, abundant flora, and unforgettable voices, Lupine is a showcase of the dramatic monologue at its wicked best.

-Mary Biddinger, author of Department of Elegy

About the Author

Jenny Irish

Jenny Irish is the author of the hybrid poetry collections Common Ancestor (Black Lawrence, 2017) and Tooth Box (Spuyten Duyvil, 2021),  the short story collection I Am Faithful  (Black Lawrence, 2019), the chapbook Lupine (Black Lawrence, 2023) and most recently Hatch (Northwestern University Press, 2024). She teaches creative writing at Arizona State University and facilitates free community workshops every summer.

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