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Distributed for Autumn House Press

Out of Order

A debut collection featuring formally diverse poems that address topics from misogyny and mental health to race and identity.
Alexis Sears’s debut collection, Out of Order, is a collage of unapologetic intimacy, risk-taking vulnerability, and unwavering candor. A biracial millennial woman, Sears navigates the challenges of growing out of girlhood and into womanhood with its potential dangers, interrogating the male gaze, beauty standards, and confidence and identity. Pop culture references run through the collection, with rock icons David Bowie and Prince and poets like Kenneth Koch offering windows into desire and adaptation. In these poems, Sears works through heavy topics, such as loneliness, mental illness, chronic pain, the legacies of race and racism, and the aftermath of a father’s suicide. As she writes, “I’m learning something every ravishing day / and none of it is easy.”
This young poet demonstrates an uncommon mastery of craft, writing in forms including the sonnet redoublé, sestina, canzone, and villanelle. With all her linguistic skills, Sears’s work remains approachable, offering readers a striking blend of honesty, humor, anguish, joy, and surprise. Drawing influence from contemporary poets like Mark Jarman, Erica Dawson, and Tiana Clark, Sears cuts a path of her own.
Out of Order was the 2021 winner of the Donald Justice Poetry Prize.

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“If you have never read Sears, prepare yourself. Her poems draw blood. It’s hard to think of a debut collection since Heart’s Needle [by W.D. Snodgrass] that is at once so deeply felt and so finely tuned. In her hands, form is the fist that delivers the blow, conveying the pure force of language. With so much at stake—identity, melancholia, a father’s suicide in a distant place—feeling could easily overwhelm and blur, but Sears’s poems remain precise and richly textured. Her poems do not succumb; they triumph, as we do, thrillingly, through them.”

David Yezzi, author of Black Sea

Table of Contents

Table of Contents
Sky, You Don’t Get It
Objet d’Art
Golden Years
Some Days Are Harder: A Canzone
The Wedding Gown
What Is History
Hermosa Beach
At the New Year
On Turning Twenty

For My Father: A Sonnet Redoublé

Hoop Earrings, Bare Legs
Ted Bundy
Sandwich Shop Sonnet
Children of the Streets
What You’ve Heard
Riding Home, Five Years Later
Memory: We’re Out of Limes

Hair Sestina
My Hair: An Epic
How to Forget That Night
Soup Over Salad
When My Best Friend Reminds Me That Nothing Matters
On the Appearance of Angels
Notes to Self
What Do You Do When the Pain Is Gone?


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