Milkweed Editions Philomath: Poetry Milkweed Editions Philomath: Poetry
Milkweed Editions Philomath: Poetry Milkweed Editions Philomath: Poetry

Philomath: Poetry

By Devon Walker-Figueroa

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Publication Date: September 14, 2021

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“If whatever it means ‘to become’ has a sound, Devon Walker-Figueroa can hear it.” —SALLY KEITH

Selected by Sally Keith as a winner of the 2020 National Poetry Series, this debut collection is a ruminative catalogue of overgrowth and the places that haunt us.

With Devon Walker-Figueroa as our Virgil, we begin in the collection’s eponymous town of Philomath, Oregon. We drift through the general store, into the Nazarene Church, past people plucking at the brambles of a place that won’t let them go. We move beyond the town into fields and farmland—and further still, along highways, into a cursed Californian town, a museum in Florence. We wander with a kind of animal logic, like a beast with “a mind to get loose / from a valley fallowing / towards foul,” through the tense, overlapping space between movement and stillness.

An explorer at the edge of the sublime, Walker-Figueroa writes in quiet awe of nature, of memory, and of a beauty that is “merely existence carrying on and carrying on.” In her wanderings, she guides readers toward a kind of witness that doesn’t flinch from the bleak or bizarre: A vineyard engulfed in flames is reclaimed by the fields. A sow smothers its young, then bears more. A neighbor chews locusts in his yard.

For in Philomath, it is the poet’s (sometimes reluctant) obligation “to keep an eye / on what is left” of the people and places that have impacted us. And there is always something left, whether it is the smell of burnt grapes, a twelfth-century bronze, or even a lock of hair.

About the Author

Devon Walker-Figueroa is the author of Philomath, selected for the 2020 National Poetry Series by Sally Keith. She is a writer, editor, and erstwhile professional ballet dancer who grew up in Kings Valley, a ghost town in the Oregon Coast Range. A graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop and the 2018 recipient of the New England Review's Emerging Writer Award, Walker-Figueroa has published poems in such journals as the American Poetry Review, The Nation, POETRY, Lana Turner, the Harvard Advocate, Ploughshares, and the New England Review. She is currently enrolled in NYU's fiction MFA program, teaches writing courses at Saint Joseph's College in Brooklyn, and serves as the co-founding editor of Horsethief Books.

Format: Trade Paperback

Length: 96 pages

Publisher: Milkweed Editions

Publication Date: September 14, 2021

ISBN: 9781571315229

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