Fire Index measures the interior life of a survivor against the world she creates through her own fractured marriage, motherhood, and religion. Told in fragments, using hybrid and persona, Breitland confronts the trauma of her brother’s death, her father’s abuse, and the complicated relationships to her sister, mother, and womanhood. She reckons with her complicit, and often dishonest life, and how walking out from the burning construct demands her full attention, forgiveness, responsibility.
Written in experimental verse and hybrid, Fire Index attempts to illustrate the traumatized mind.
Poetry Book Award Winner
Advance Praise for Fire Index by Bethany Breitland
“Fire Index is an exploration beneath the many layers of truth, time, memory and so many other factors that is the stuff that sometimes makes life too hot to sit with.”
—Shanta Lee, final judge, author of GHETTOCLAUSTROPHBIA
“Bethany Breitland has penned one of the most surprisingly brutal and yet beautiful books of poems I have read in decades. Page by page a near gothic narrative in a variety of forms unfolds — lined, fragmented, prose poems, definitions — she takes cruel acts and juxtaposes them with an imagination so profound and metaphorical as to make me rethink the possibility of language. This is a rural landscape rife with religion and not really concerned with redemption or that wells or walls itself in self-pity. Far from it. As the title indicates, this is a book of the things that burn us, about family that harms, till eventually one writes ‘maybe suffering doesn’t matter as much as it once did.’ Only these poems suggest maybe the scars that heal don’t matter as much as the ones that don’t, and this book is a map through all of them.”
—Sean Thomas Dougherty, author of The Day Every Day Is
“Fiercely rooted by love and brutal devotion, I was completely stunned and devastated by Bethany Breitland’s debut collection, Fire Index. This collection lives somewhere between the real and the imaginary, the only place where a vulnerable young woman could exist as she details the work of intimacy, trauma, and the complex emotional landscape of family wounds. Rendered with deep beauty as it lives alongside despair, I was knocked over by Breitland’s lyric exploration that ultimately leads toward liberation, a figure smouldering but free. Fire Index reveals a truly brilliant mind and heart at work.”
—Tina Chang, Poet Laureate of Brooklyn, author of Hybrida
About the Author
Bethany Breitland was born in northern Indiana. Her people are cult members, truckers, doctors, child-mothers, and business tycoons. She has lived, studied, and taught on the West Coast, the South, and New England. Breitland earned her undergrad degree from Pepperdine University and her MFA from Vermont College of the Fine Arts. As an educator and activist, she has worked for over 20 years concerning women’s rights and the LGBTQ community. Recipient of various poetry prizes including semi-finalist for the OSU Press/The Journal Wheeler Prize for Poetry, this is her first full-length book of poems. She lives with her children and her partner Michael outside of Burlington, Vermont.
Page Count: 90 pages
Trim Size: 6 x 8
Publication Date: April 4, 2023
Distributor: IPG / Chicago
Rights sold: All rights available.
Rights & Publicity contact: Dede Cummings
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