Scrape the Velvet from Your Antlers: Poems

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In questioning the boundaries between the world and oneself, Scrape the Velvet from Your Antlers unflinchingly explores the dark eddies of coming of age and coming out. Kelly McQuain's poems are far roaming in setting and far ranging in style, depicting the richness of a rural West Virginia upbringing as well as contemporary adulthood in the big city and abroad. Glints of humor and glimpses of pathos abound in the imaginative leaps these poems take as they tackle such subjects as LGBTQ sexuality, homophobia, domestic abuse, and racism. Unafraid to push the limits of contemporary sonics, McQuain's work is rich in music and varied in form, with new riffs on the sonnet, the villanelle, and the persona poem. Accessible and lyrical, this debut collection deftly explores the homes we come from and the homes we create--all the while shining with wonder and resolve. Several of the poems won contests including the Bloom chapbook prize, the Glitter Bomb Award, Best New Poets 2000.
From "No Trespassing"
It's me who worries about her mini-strokes
and falls, the knot on her head from where she
stumbled picking blackberries on the bank.
She watches the bees come, stippling themselves
with pollen, flowers bending in the breeze.
This world is hers, for now--all she covets.
Tonight it is a black bear and three cubs up against
her window, spilling seeds from a bird feeder
hung against the house. My mother stands
in the dark by that window, her thin hand,
the chill of ghostly glass.

About the Author

KELLY MCQUAIN grew up in the Allegheny Mountains of West Virginia and is the author of two previous chapbooks, Velvet Rodeo (winner of the Bloom Award) and Antlers. His poetry has appeared in Best New Poets, American Poetry Review, The Pinch, Kestrel, Appalachian Review, and in numerous anthologies. Also an artist, McQuain's paintings have appeared in books, journals, magazines and galleries. He currently works as a professor of English in Philadelphia.

"From Vampirella to villanelles, Dolly Parton to deconstruction, poet Kelly McQuain gleefully reaches across the imaginary borders between high and low culture [...] Rich in both wisdom and entertainment value, these sharp, sparkling pieces will engage even readers not normally disposed to poetry."
--Jim Gladstone, Passport Magazine--Jim Gladwell "Passport Magazine"

Publisher: Texas Review Press
Pub date: February 15, 2023
100 pages
Format: Paperback