Rodeo in Reverse is a snarky but personal manuscript that is both a time machine and a microscope, woven with bits of Americana: married life, art history, pioneers, and witches. Read More
Picture reversing a rodeo: the rider flies back onto the horse, the horse bucks into stillness. A whirling cast of characters engage in self-interrogation and self-discovery and wrestle in similar fashion in the pages of Rodeo in Reverse, a debut collection from Lindsey Alexander, which Sean Hill calls “the genuine article.”
Both time machine and microscope, Rodeo in Reverse is woven from bits of Americana: married life, art history, pioneers, and witches. These poems effortlessly traverse personal and historical pasts with tenderness and unrivaled humor. They offer a tour of American landscape—the trees with bitter crop of the South; the plains of the Midwest; the duels of a cartoonish Wild West. At once a wily romp and a lyric sweep, Rodeo in Reverse considers the possibilities and failures of domestic life on the never-ending quest of rounding up, and defining, the self.
Rodeo in Reverse is the winner of the 2017 New Southern Voices Poetry Prize.
“A one-of-a-kind collection that crosses great swaths of geography and genre.” —Chicago Review of Books
“Lindsey Alexander’s debut collection is marvelous. The final poem, “Homestead, Sure” is worth the cover charge alone. Does anyone else feel like they need a few more chuckles this year? This poet’s wit and wonder will get you there.” —Kenyon Review
"Lindsey Alexander’s debut collection, Rodeo in Reverse, grabs from the start and continues to surprise with its curious thoughtful turns and exhilarating associative leaps. The mind at work in these poems charms as you’re drawn deeper into conversation and engagement with them about women pioneers in the American West, to old wives’ tales about ostriches, and a range of things in between. The speaker of these poems is about the necessary work of identity making and reconciling one’s self with self recognition. Rodeo in Reverse is the genuine article." —Sean Hill, author of Dangerous Goods
"Abe Lincoln, Patty Hearst, Van Gogh, Mary Magdalene, Sonny and Cher, Buddha’s wife, Axl Rose, Bad Me/Good Me—all are radiant presences in this remarkable collection made of quirky, sudden shifts of observation and wise insight that enlarge the world. 'Dog that won’t stop barking and all I can think:/ I don’t know anything about stars,' the poet tells us. But history’s dark is here too, love’s humor and reason, a band on the radio not 'holding grudges' for once. My bet is you’ve never read poems like these: such surprise, curiosity, and wise-guy delight, such heart and—yes!—soul. Treasure this work. And this poet." —Marianne Boruch, author of Cadaver, Speak
"If a rodeo were to be enacted in reverse, as the title of Lindsey Alexander's debut suggests, then we begin with the bull ride, the most threatening event, the one wherein the cowgirl is expected to last on the back of the large and bucking bull, only one of her small hands holding tight to what must seem like a whole earth jerking underneath her; the one wherein the question is not if she'll get hurt, but when. And will she rise back up? Will she run triumphant out of the ring, bones unbroken, singing and waving goodbye and goodbye? This wild lurch of a book will leave you asking only one question: Is that bull running straight at me?" —Rebecca Gayle Howell, author of American Purgatory