Three, Breathing

By S.A. Stepanek
Publication Date: April 1, 2006

ISBN# 9781933517124 (5.5x8.75 104pp, paperback)
ISBN# 9781933517131 (5.5x8.75 104pp, limited edition hardcover)

  • A booklength psalm: spiritual, unpredictable, and gripped by the energy of another time. This singular book transcends time and convention. Stepanek resurrects Whitman and Blake to weave a mantra of Biblical, domestic, and political themes unified by repetition and manic religious energy.

    National Poetry Series winner selected by Mary Ruefle

  • There is delightful work and artistry in this book, and much to pore and ponder, to re-read of what the poet’s mind intended: also of what “I am that I am” might have intended.
    Cynthia Arrieu-King, DIAGRAM

    When [Stepanek] effectively balances the formal repetition that exerts pressure on her lines and the lyrical imagination that seeks to escape these constraints, her poems achieve a sublime resonance that is moving and authoritative. For this to happen even occasionally within a first collection is an impressive achievement and one that Stepanek will hopefully build upon in her subsequent work.
    Brandon Lamson, Gulf Coast

    The poem is expansive in the true sense of the word: each additional phrase builds a layer of meaning, without diminishing the potential for additional layers by slipping into conclusions. Or, to employ another metaphor, the poem is perpetually branching forward into new paths. The main technique by which Stepanek achieves this generative open-endedness is through figurative abstraction, by eliciting imagery within a meaningful syntactic context, without suggesting received narratives. To maximize the reading effect of this particular style, one might approach each stanza as one would a haiku, sensitized to the metonymic relations between phrases.
    Jayson Iwen, Pleiades

    Three, Breathing is a difficult book with a payoff; it is one of the few books of poetry I’ve read recently that has changed the way I look at the regularities of my daily life, that has excited me because every physicality seems deeper in its connection to the textures of words. The book’s ambiguities do not derail the beauty possible from a run-in with Three, Breathing, a strange spiritual for the twenty-first century...Stepanek is a brave, eccentric new voice in contemporary American poetry.
    Barbara Duffey, American Book Review

  • S.A. Stepanek earned an MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and a Ph.D. from the University of Houston.

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