Scorched Altar: Selected Poems & Stories

Scorched Altar Cover - Final - FrontScorched Altar:  Selected Poems and Stories 2007-2014.  BlazeVOX [books], 2014.  Available here.

Praise for Scorched Altar:  

It is in the very restlessness of her metaphors that Kristina Darling documents a tangible faith. Such restlessness is trustworthy and always, throughout Scorched Altar, both vital and in plain view. Here are truthful experiments. Here is a new tradition, alive in bright air.

—Donald Revell

Kristina Marie Darling’s hypnotic poems and stories resurrect the often forgotten parts of books. Under her direction, footnotes, indexes, and glossaries become jewels, ‘iridescent, when held to the light.’ This is haunting and beautifully crafted work.

—Chloe Honum

Kristina Darling ransacks the apparatus of the Romantic imaginary and repurposes its vestigial and spectral forms. In these stories and poems, features from the textual margins—footnote, glossary, subplot, index—eclipse the center, signaling blindspots in accounts of possession and desire. Scorched Altar isolates and revolves the tropes of melancholic femininity—moon, bird, star, stillness—reconfiguring an interiority of semiotic swoon. The word “luminous” recurs, becoming an antique mirror too tarnished to reflect, a surface that reveals only enigma and miniature: “Thus his presentation of the earring, with its tiny pewter bird, reminded her of the ocean—its pristine shores and frigid tides, but also the potential for vertigo.” Darling’s procedures expose the gothic psyche still haunting the lyric mode, and the dissonance it bequeaths: “I had wanted to discover the cold metal gears winding beneath the firmament. Now the most fearful disruption of a delicate machine.”

—B. K. Fischer

“I keep trying to warm the / endless rooms” Kristina Marie Darling writes in “YOUR ONLY WIFE,” and that’s a good place to from which to enter these poems and stories. In its precision of language and deeply human, personal engagement, Darling’s work reaches directly and profitably to the contextual questions of intention and meaning. Each prismatic moment is heightened by the new organization that Scorched Altar: Selected Poems & Stories 2007-2014 affords, revealing, in their juxtaposition, her development from book to book, obsessively devoted to the possibilities of language and tone. The clarity of what happened is what continues to happen in this necessary and wonderful overview of Darling’s career so far, the gift of which reminds us that we live in the uncanny valley, but, even newly arriving to where we’ve always been, there are many things still to discover.

—John Gallaher


“Eloquently, provocatively, and strategically, Scorched Altar reimagines the book.”-Up the Staircase Quarterly.

“Kristina Marie Darling is an exciting voice in contemporary poetry. The seven-year span of this collection represents work from twelve different published books. It offers readers a chance to see a highly productive mind work through recurring concerns about genre and representation in an almost limitless ways.”-Weave Magazine.  

“Darling’s Scorched Altar: Selected Poems and Stories reveals a poet who has created forms and mastered them in her heart wrenching exploration of themes that haunt us all.”-American Micro Reviews and Interviews.  


Split Lip Magazine

Sundog Lit

Up the Staircase Quarterly

Writer’s Digest

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