Survival Strategies

Survival Strategies is a love story wrapped in a reckoning. Arranged in three parts, this collection of poems follows a narrative arc.The speaker, who is returning to the Sonoran of her birth after many years away, takes us with her on a journey of enlightenment.

In the course of the first section, “The Sunniest Place on Earth,” we learn that the speaker has developed a deep hatred of the desert (a reflection of herself) due to the way she was treated and what she witnessed while being raised there. As we move through to part 2, “Estivate So You Don’t Die,” we see the speaker grappling with her past as a sensitive person amid the rugged realities of life in the Southwest. As this section closes, there is a long-form prose poem assembled as a mythopoetic fable titled, “The Mother and the Mountain,” that explores her mother’s childhood. This section brings revelation to some of what precedes it and reveals the speaker as the buttress of this family who, though an outsider, walks a path first laid by her mother. The final section is titled simply, “After,” and as its title suggests, is a short set of poems that wrap up the arc and bring peace to our speaker as she comes to realize she never hated the desert, nor herself, as she is set free by the ocean of the Pacific Northwest.

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Selected by

Adrienne Su