Selected by Joy Harjo as the winner of the Walt Whitman Award of the Academy of American Poets
'Taut, ferocious . . . This is a book about survival, and a welcome, confident debut' New York Times Book Review
Emily Skaja's debut collection is a fiery, hypnotic book that confronts the dark questions and menacing silences around gender, sexuality and violence. BRUTE arises, brave and furious, from the dissolution of a relationship, showing how such endings necessitate self-discovery and reinvention. The speaker of these poems is a sorceress, a bride, a warrior, a lover, both object and agent, ricocheting among ways of knowing and being known. Each incarnation squares itself up against ideas of feminine virtue and sin, strength and vulnerability, love and rage, as it closes in on a hard-won freedom.
BRUTE is absolutely sure of its capacity to insist not only on the truth of what it says but on the truth of its right to say it. 'What am I supposed to say: I'm free?' the first poem asks. The rest of the poems emphatically discover new ways to answer. This is a timely winner of the Walt Whitman Award, and an introduction to an unforgettable voice.
[In Brute], the anguish comes from an emotionally abusive lover and the abrupt end of a relationship. As the speaker excavates her grief and disbelief, she slowly moves from self-condemnation to a fiery insistence that she can overcome her boyfriend's damaging assessments of her worth and reclaim the power she once had . . . The speaker's brutal honesty and emotional transformation offer an engrossing guide for anyone dealing with a devastating loss - The Washington Post
Emily Skaja's [Brute] is lyrical, visceral, sharp like a fang, and filled witJh lines that pierce and prod and stay embedded inside your skin - NYLON
Brute is an unflinching exploration of gender, violence, and recovery . . . Within the pain of Skaja's poetry is an unrelenting force, a brutish will to survive that bursts forth with every stanza, announcing her resilience - Paris Review
Skaja's poems are both primal scream-songs and elegies to the end of a relationship . . . With relentless, driving energy, Skaja's poems seek brutal truths while searching for meaningful transformation - Booklist