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ISBN: 978-1-934703-81-6
Categories Poetry

Tips for Domestic Travel

Publication Date: September 2009


In the title poem of Tips for Domestic Travel, Hayden Saunier tells us:

If you walk up, weeping, to an airline counter
one hour before flight and three days after

elevated warnings of terrorist attacks,
you should expect the body search

of a lifetime, even if you aren’t wearing
an underwire bra…

That is where we begin. Saunier takes us home where we use a bandsaw to do battle with a Smithfield ham, prepare for a road trip to an unknown sea town where a dearly beloved will nurse a tumor, and where death patiently reads The New York Times. Tips for Domestic Travel is an elegy, but it’s also a guide for navigating the domestic lands of the childhood home, the body, and the objects that remain.


In these lucid and intriguing elegies, at the cold heart of calamity, there is a calm. This calm, a kind of wisdom, does not so much console as teach us that in the face of the tragic one cannot help, at least for some time, to remain inconsolable. You will find, in spite of what I have just said, that these poems are funny and humane, sharpened by Saunier’s razor-edged wit. She tunes these poems with a keen ear and perfected pitch for the music of the American language. This is a breathtaking and stunning debut.

-Eric Pankey

In Tips for Domestic Travel, Hayden Saunier invites us to live deeply in the moment even as we stand apart from it and puzzle over it. Saunier’s poetry does not turn away from the horrors of the world, nor from its joys. Tips for Domestic Travel, like any remarkable book, offers good company for the long distances we must travel. It helps us to face what must be faced.

-Christopher Bursk

Poet Muriel Rukeyser famously wrote ‘What would happen if one woman told the truth about her life? The world would split open.’ Dear Ms. Rukeyser, a luminously lucid female has done just that. In this forthright, slyly inventive collection Hayden Saunier cleaves our world in twain like a grapefruit. Her clear-eyed poems praise what is, has been and will be. They cut to the startling heart of mortality, where loss and delight, humor and dolor are inextricable, where ‘…destruction beats creation/in a footrace every day.'”

-Amy Gerstler

About the Author

Hayden Saunier

Hayden Saunier's first collection of poetry, TIPS FOR DOMESTIC TRAVEL, was a finalist for the St. Lawrence Award and was published by Black Lawrence Press in 2009. Her second book, SAY LUCK, won the 2013 Gell Poetry Prize. Her work has been awarded the Pablo Neruda Prize and the Rattle Poetry Prize, both in 2011, and has appeared widely in journals such as 5 A.M., Beloit Poetry Journal, Bellevue Literary Review, Drunken Boat, Smartish Pace, Southern Poetry Review, Tar River Poetry and Virginia Quarterly Review. She is a graduate of the University of Virginia and holds an MFA from the Bennington Writing Seminars. She is an actress with extensive theatre, film and television credits, including The Sixth Sense, Philadelphia Diary, House of Cards, VEEP and Hack.

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