The Lifting Dress

Lauren Berry’s bracing and emotionally charged first collection of poetry delivers visions of a gothic South that Flannery O’Connor would recognize. Set in a feverish swamp town in Florida, The Lifting Dress enters the life of a teenage girl the day after she has been raped. She refuses to tell anyone what has happened, and moves silently toward adulthood in a community that offers beauty but denies apology. Through lyric narratives, readers watch her shift between mirroring and rejecting the anxious swelter of her world, until she ultimately embraces it with the same violent affection once tendered to her.

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Selected by

Terrance Hayes





The entire red carnation in my mouth.

Like any panicked schoolgirl, I’m inarticulate
      and constantly introduced

to beautiful things. Today it’s a doctor
      who says, Young La-dy! and demands,

Young La-dy, you cannot keep that garden

in your throat. How will we ask you question?
      How will you sip from the glass of water

and tell us what he did to you? Softly I slip

the red carnation further into my throat.
      There must be hundreds

of ways to be a girl. I’m just the kind
      who has trouble parting her lips.