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On the heels of her memoir, FEVER, Niziolek's debut poetry collection, atrophy, continues pulling even further at the same threads: desire, grief, trauma, love, and illness. However, the primary beast that stalks these pages is the body in isolation, the body in decay, the body as animalistic and wounded and deadly in its pursuit of living. atrophy has all the promise of a young poet and all the grit of a grown woman who has repeatedly clawed her way through the dirt.

"Why can't anyone be upfront about the way bodies betray," Shilo Niziolek asks in atrophy, and the question becomes a kind of crystal that falls, catching light and refracting different colors as it does, into the rich forest of these poems. Between Ativan and Ophelia, serpents and spools of red thread, lies the pain that pulses at the heart of this collection: the fraught relationship with the body and its battles with illness, gendered violence, frustrated desire, and untamed hunger. In Niziolek's hands, these subjects become both intimately personal and achingly relatable. "They try to drown us," she writes, "but we are tidal, eclipse, revolution." Like the hawk in the bird bath she speaks of, Niziolek demonstrates that the wildest of things can exist in the most unexpected of places-a reminder that is powerful, important, and stirring. This author is a literary sorceress, one under whose spell you'll want to fall again and again.


-Catherine Broadwall, author of Fulgurite




"Shilo Niziolek is a wolf of a writer. She travers, often with too much familiarity, across the landscape of a beseeched body, leveling her craft directly at the narrow path of discomfort. Poems weave in and out dreams and the real life grounds of horror we find ourselves forced to experience; examination tables, wintered and reckless neighborhoods, and within the internet, face to face with America's rancid desires. Niziolek swerves between body and where body isn't, is and should be, opening the coffers of her own form so that we might find the rose-red spray of a slaughtered buffalo across tainted winter snow. She asks (or rather, howls): What is the distance between a body and an imagined body? What is the dream between the bones? Go on, open the book up and find out."


-Kelly Gray, author of Instructions for an Animal Body and Tiger Paw, Tiger Paw, Knife, Knife

Publisher: Querencia Press, LLC
Pub date: September 22, 2023
90 pages
Format: Paperback