Praise for Plucking the Stinger

The hilarity and formal inventiveness of these poems paired with the speaker’s unapologetically morbid worldview make for a terrific read, yes, but it is Stephanie Rogers’ vulnerability in the face of grief that makes Plucking the Stinger an unusually poignant book. —Cate Marvin

Buckle your seatbelt because these ain’t your mom’s metaphors; Stephanie Rogers takes her corners fast and her straightaways beyond any safe horizon. In Plucking the Stinger’s fierce odes to staying alive, the moon is “a quarter soaked in lard / and taped to a chalkboard,” or “a rag / dried stiff on a clothesline,” but beauty, and all attempted reconciliations with childhood and fate, in general, and with the suicide of a brother-in-law, in particular, find their place in lines already masterful, and through a posture limned with wit, sorrow, and passion in equal measure. These poems deliver you to life’s door; get in, and go.

—Jessica Greenbaum

Plucking the Stinger is a much-needed, courageous book of poems that twists and tumbles its way into a new, vibrant language for the mind’s unraveling in the face of suffering. Acrobatic, inventive, but above all tender and keen-eyed, these stunning poems are both the wicked firestarter and the welcomed bucket brigade that saves us all in the end. —Ada Limón

The 37 poems of Plucking the Stinger (Oct. 4) by Stephanie Rogers deal with such subjects as childhood and adult pain, problems with commitment, broken relationships, illness, unexpected death, and despair. Dark subjects—but ones made vividly real by an almost brutal, dispassionate honesty. The images she creates and evokes are riveting, and what she writes becomes the pain we ourselves experience. —Glynn Young, Tweetspeak Poetry

Plucking the Stinger, the debut poetry collection from Stephanie Rogers, is brutal, unflinching, and beautiful on the line level as well as holistically. Rogers is deft at circling a central, concrete artifact in these poems and using that artifact to carry the poem over the top by the end, requiring the reader to linger for a moment in grief or love or empathy or hope. —Jack Hill, American Microreviews & Interviews 

Her poems snag and prompt emotional recalibrations within the reader. I marvelled at the flashy-baited imagery that she deploys within this collection. Her deft poems strike a light at life when you’re in a dark place with the doldrums. The poems express this with acute honesty. Her writing is charged with brevity. She also articulates humour particularly well and juxtaposes it with morbidity, loss, despair and tragedy with great aplomb. —Laurie Cusack, Everybody’s Reviewing

Rogers invokes the surreal nature of “regular” life and rotates it, so we face the synesthesia of our own experiences. In three sections, Plucking the Stinger redefines “pluck” as the speaker demonstrates resilience in an on-going self-relationship; a number of poems in the first section square off with “My Despair.” Rogers’ remaking of “pluck” is an attempt to remove something that hurts, but also an acknowledgement of a weapon (stinger) used by another (or another self) as defense. —Amelia Martens, Exit 7

Praise for Best New Poets 2013

The work, much of it nominated by university writing programs and literary journals, is diverse in voice and subject matter, providing an effective barometer of contemporary American poetry … The poems seem to owe as much to 20th-century traditions as to the spirit of invention, and, as such, are a reminder that contemporary poetry is not only alive and well but continuing to evolve. —Publishers Weekly

Praise for Best New Poets 2009

Unlike novelists and bad-boy memoirists, emerging poets are unlikely to sprawl on Oprah’s couch, date starlets, or rouse bidding wars. With an alert ear for new voices, this anthology offers a different kind of validation: that of being well heard. The result is a vibrant smorgasbord … [Best New Poets] bears evidence of the insistent inquiries of self and the world that drive poetry. Foreword

[One] comes to realize that the adjectives ‘new’ and ‘emerging’ are mere technicalities in this instance. Although none of the poets included here have published a full-length book of poetry, many are MFA students or graduates, and chapbook authors, and most have already seen some of their poems published in the most renowned and exclusive journals in North America … The result is a remarkably diverse mix of poems. BookPleasures

Now in its fifth year, this annual volume presents some of the best young poets emerging from the MFA creative writing programs all over the U.S. … [These poets] prove that American poetry has the strength and vision to move beyond the MFA environment in order to reshape and reflect past traditions. Bloomsbury Review

Praise for Best New Poets 2006

It’s a nervy thing for an anthology to label itself Best New Poets, but once again the collection lives up to its name. It’s a rich and readable selection, reflecting no party-line aesthetic, and attesting to the formidable promise of the emerging generation. David Wojahn