In stock

ISBN: 978-1-62557-711-5
Categories Poetry

The Truth Is

Publication Date: April 2019


In The Truth Is Avery M. Guess ensnares her reader in a terrifying drama of intimacy’s invasions-incest, abuse, institutionalization, suicide, illness-that the reader, like the speaker, cannot escape. And yet, all the while, here too is the grace and salvation only the natural world offers us; here too is the guardian strength of ginkgo trees, thunderstorms, the Everglades, the ocean, the Miami sun. Here too is a whole woman’s body, which, once she discovers she is never separate from the loving silence on which this good earth turns, becomes something so much greater than what she endures. And so do we.

-Rebecca Gayle Howell, author of American Purgatory and Render: An Apocalypse

Perhaps you think you have a sense of what it is to be a survivor. Or perhaps, like me, you are one. But let me tell you: no familiarity with trauma will prepare you for the singular world of Avery M. Guess’ book, steeped as it is in a Florida childhood of Spanish moss and sea cucumbers, armadillos and bats, the whole place hurricane-wrecked, reeking of marine debris, the flooded carpet replaced by a bright red shag in which a father creeps across to his daughter’s bed at night. Here you have not a story of recovery but the day-by-day blast of fire it takes to choose life, or more accurately, to reclaim a body that’s been heisted, so much so that to feel anything a return to the body’s animal self is the only thing that works-sometimes by cutting but also by slipping into the skin of an alligator or growing antlers where her mother’s nails broke off in her scalp. Reader, I swear to you-no book, not since I first found Sharon Olds or Linda McCarriston or Rachel McKibbens-has scorched my heart with such furious beauty.

-Nickole Brown, Author of Fanny Says & Sister

The Truth Is- an astonishingly powerful debut collection by Avery M. Guess-holds the multiple facets of trauma up to the light with a piercing, rainbowed clarity. These are poems that sensitively unfold legacies of childhood sexual abuse and mental illness with fierce candor, while simultaneously performing the magical alchemies of transforming pain into riveting art. Linguistically taut, and imagistically deft, these lovely and harrowing poems linger and haunt. If you are a survivor, this is a book that will make you feel seen. If you are not a survivor, this is a book that will help you to see. Avery M. Guess is a stunning poet with a gorgeous talent, and a generously capacious heart.

-Lee Ann Roripaugh, Author of Dandarians

Avery Guess’s debut collection of poems The Truth Is is a brave document of survivorhood. The poems bear witness to childhood domestic & sexual violence, and ask the reader to listen with compassion, love, and tenderness. Formally varied, at turns, spare, narrative, and fantastical, the poems move with agility through possibility while refusing easy answers. Guess’s book offers a necessary testimony for our times.

-Cathy Linh Che, Author of Split

It is impossible to read the poems in this collection without taking a breath after each one, calculating everything at stake. The Truth Is dismantles our tidy narratives-its poems thrash with honesty, renouncing shame while demanding we, as readers, help carry the load. It challenges us to put more effort into the terms: witness, survivor, risk, and reckoning.

-Rachel McKibbens, Author of blud, Into the Dark & Emptying Field, and Pink Elephant

About the Author

Avery Moselle Guess

Avery M. Guess (@averymguess) is a recipient of 2015 NEA Fellowship for Poetry, grants from the Barbara Deming Memorial Fund and the Kentucky Foundation for Women, and residencies from the Albee Foundation, New York Mills Arts Retreat, Ragdale Foundation, the Vermont Studio Center, and the Sundress Academy for the Arts at Firefly Farms. She is a PhD student in creative writing, poetry, at University of South Dakota and assistant editor for poetry at South Dakota Review. Recent and forthcoming publications include poems in Crab Orchard Review, Moon City Review, Thrush, Rogue Agent, Tinderbox, Glass, Rust + Moth, and Deaf Poets Society and creative non-fiction in Entropy and The Manifest-Station. Her chapbook, The Patient Admits, is available from dancing girl press, and her first full-length collection of poetry will be published in April 2019 by Black Lawrence Press. Avery’s website is

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