Kristin Bock received her MFA in poetry from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst where she currently teaches in the Business Communication Program. In 2008, her collection, Cloisters, won Tupelo Press’s First Book Award and the da Vinci Eye Award for cover art. Her poems have appeared in many literary magazines and journals, including the Black Warrior Review, Columbia, Crazyhorse, FENCE, Pleiades, Prairie Schooner, Sixth Finch, and Verse Magazine, among others. She is also a contributing editor to the magazine, Bateau.
“Kristin Bock’s poems are original and always surprising. They are deft. Images are chiseled with great care, each word chosen with exacting particularity. Though most poems are short, they add up to a powerful vision. I love this book.”–James Tate
“Poetry comes unbidden and it comes by design, with desire. I love this book’s adamant attentions and unashamed ardors.” —Dara Wier
Kristin Bock’s potent and undeniably original voice sings throughout this award-winning first collection of poetry. Deftly weaving images and symbols, Bock entices us with striking, transcedently unusual pastorals. The poet’s spare wordplay is subtly tinged with gothic imagery, cloaked with an easy innocence, and yet laced with visceral insights that offers the double rewards of wisdom and depth. This compelling new voice, brimming with raw emotional power, a voice that effortlessly enlightens and arouses, assuring the reader that if nothing on Earth may be taken at face value, neither may it be taken for granted or for lost.
“Kristin Bock’s marvelous debut collection enacts an aesthetic of discrete moments, offering her reader an intelligence that works simultaneously upon the heart and at the margins of experience. The perspective here is edgy, nervous, compelling, and wise. In the pared delicacy of these poems, we discover both exceptional nuance and resonance — these are poems that trust their readers, poems that don’t oversell their emotions or perceptions. Kristin Bock’s poems are like the shards of a mirror that magically reflect a whole person, a whole woman, a whole mind and a sensibility at work in the world. As in all of the best volumes of poetry, we come to admire the person in these poems, her vision and her character.” –David St. John
“Cloisters is a modern re-appraisal of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. The speakers of Kristin Bock’s poems evoke a Christine Rossetti who has said goodbye to the men’s club, goodbye to Victorian constraints, farewell to the grand arguments of the day, while still holding them all terribly dear. From the window of her gothic retreat, she pines wistfully like a Romantic heroine for a love lost, but she surprises the reader with an uncourtly resolution to patch up her wounded heart and carry on, even if some of the rancor of the spurned is sewn within its chambers.
This new Rossetti is no anchorite though. She, like her spiritual brothers, finds consolation and regeneration in the natural world. Many poems in this book are characterized by a painterly fondness for the denizens of the meadow. Artifice is weighed against nature, the poem against the emotion; the speakers seem to know they are in poems that are doomed to fail in their attempt to capture even the smallest sublimities of forms perfected by nature, perhaps, the Christian god, maybe.
The speakers here are supplicants prostrated before their grief, beauty, their deity, the natural world. It’s not hard to picture some of them as drowned Ophelia, strewn with weeds and flowers. But these Ophelias stick around for the last word and are there to describe the aftermath at Elsinore. There are Sleeping Beauties here in their glass coffins; however, one suspects they may have hidden hammers and no intention of waiting eternally for the prince.
There is a Medieval sensibility to some of these poems. Some are tapestry-like tableaux of damsels in bowers, awaiting billets-doux. Others sort out the natural world, looking for auguries and symbols that will help make sense of murky moods. These poems, these damsels, though, are not the ideal, chaste creatures of courtly, unconsummated love. They are knowing, worldly, bruised and tender. They have regrets and are unspared by troubles. Yet they would do it all over again and suffer just as much, since they have learned something about mortality.” –Corwin Ericson (author of SWELL)