by Lisa Hiton


Selected by Mary Jo Bang

“These brilliant poems are covertly grounded in metaphysical questions… Vast categories and fluid distinctions are fractured and then woven back together… We have all the realities: the real, the surreal, the unreal, and the existential irreal.” — Mary Jo Bang

Published: October 2021
Format: Paperback

ISBN: 978-1-946482-56-3 Categories: ,

“Lisa Hiton’s Afterfeast explores Mediterranean superstition, the spiritual complexities of Judaism, and the undersung erotics of lesbian intimacy with a daunting omniscience, moving from past to present, from real city to mythical terrain, from lyric speaker to shifting persona… What ‘happens’ and to whom it is happening is secondary to Hiton’s breathtaking irreality, a modernist decoupling of time and space that allows the reader to almost slip out of a poem into some other dimension only to be resurrected in a lake, Boston, a Japanese tree, a lover.” —Megan Fernandes, Poetry Foundation

“These brilliant poems are covertly grounded in metaphysical questions, such as: Where is the line between one’s ever-evolving consciousness and the only slightly more static ‘material’ world? And the brain, is that behavior or matter? And love, what’s that? To explore these questions, vast categories and fluid distinctions are fractured and then woven back together to create an oracular, constructed self—a like-minded speaker, who, like us, has five senses as well as countless more that extend perception into other realms. This speaker lives in a dream world of her own making that is set, like a body inside its skin, in the real world that chance has granted her. She—American, Jewish, lesbian—lives inside history and dislocation, inside death and its sister, persistence (“rotgut of pine needles. / Bees do a deathhurdle over the edge, yet I do not transform”). In ‘Kavala,’ titled for the ancient Greek city that was once known as Neapolis (new city) the moon says: ‘I // tell you / what this silence stands for’. The voice of the timeless lyric moon is the poet’s voice. Her voice becomes the voice of Time talking to Space about what it is to be human. And yet, in the world of these poems, as in our world, we also have Formica, Pringles, melting butter and a matching yellow swimsuit. In other words, we have all the realities: the real, the surreal, the unreal, and the existential irreal. We need them all because any self, poetic construct or flesh-and-blood, inhabits all of these and stays busy trying to make sense of the ways in which they intersect.”

— from the Dorset Prize Judge’s Citation by Mary Jo Bang

“Lisa Hiton’s Afterfeast grapples with big stuff— painful history, gorgeous and fraught geographies, elusive sexual identity—in an authentic, dauntless voice that lends to these large subjects a gripping intimacy. To read these poems is to stand among haunted ruins on ‘the hot slab of history,’ to witness different kinds of survival, how disappeared and durable spaces endure alike in time, and in a mind. I envy readers their first entry into the ripe world of this book. A stunningly mature debut— symphonic and bracing and profound.

Maggie Dietz 

Lisa Hiton’s Afterfeast begins by considering philosophical questions arising from the experience of desire and intimacy: What does love reveal about — and make possible within — the individual?  Can we ever truly understand another person’s experience of the world around them? To what extent is the other ultimately inaccessible, a world unto herself? Pillared by massive, ambitious poems in the tradition of Modernism, these lyrics imbue landscapes as varied as Greece and America with new tension, new significance, as the speaker searches for answers to these provocative questions of love and inheritance. Through her graceful curation of imagery and enviable command of narrative, Hiton ultimately transforms our understanding of history and desire.

Lisa Hiton
credit: Michael Stonacek

Lisa Hiton holds degrees from Boston University and Harvard University. Her work has appeared in Lambda Literary, The Common, and Kenyon Review, and has been honored with the AWP Kurt Brown Prize. She is Poetry Editor of The Adroit Journal. She is the founder and co-director of Queer Poem-a-Day at the Deerfield Public Library.

Additional information

Weight 0.25 lbs
Dimensions 6 × 9 in