Both radically tender and desperate for change, Water I Won’t Touch is a life raft and a self-portrait, concerned with the vitality of trans people living in a dangerous and inhospitable landscape. Through the brambles of the Pennsylvania forest to a stretch of the Jersey Shore, in quiet moments and violent memories, Kayleb Rae Candrilli touches the broken earth and examines the whole in its parts. Written during the body’s healing from a double mastectomy―in the wake of addiction and family dysfunction―these ambitious poems put new form to what’s been lost and gained. Candrilli ultimately imagines a joyful, queer future: a garden to harvest, lasting love, the insistent flamboyance of citrus.
about Water I Won't Touch
from Water I Won't Touch
in a few days, i’ll be on a beach
so bright i can see the sun through my fingers,
each thin vein lit
up blue like a heron’s leg.
this poem is not so much about a beach
as it is about arriving,
blowing stop signs
until the coast affirms
that lines are always changing,
and the tide tells me
my body can morph
as many times as it needs.
Cover Art: Stephan Zirwes
Interior Design: Phil Kovacevich
Paperback, 96 pages
April 20, 2021, ISBN 978-1556596179
Eduardo C. Corral on Water I Won't Touch
When I read Water I Won't Touch, I dog-eared many pages, underlined many lines. Candrilli’s poems are intimate, nimble, glinting with tenderness and an astonishing lyricism. The physicality of violence electrifies memory, a refusal to conform and the euphoria of love sweetens the future. Language this good, this deftly composed fills me with gratitude. Candrilli is a fearless and brilliant poet.
Cover Art: Tomas Harker
Cover & Interior Art: Robin Vuchnich
Paperback, 100 pages
May 5, 2020, ISBN 978-1-947817-12-8
Natalie Diaz on All the Gay Saints
about All the Gay Saints
Kayleb Rae Candrilli’s second full-length collection, All the Gay Saints, is a collection of trans joy and resilience. Focused on love, partnership, and cultivating the landscape of one’s own body, All the Gay Saints, seeks happiness in a world saturated with transphobia, and marred by climate change. And though this world is finite, these poems want you to live forever. They will unbarb your body if you let them.
All the Gay Saints has a lexicon all its own, one that reveals a devastating and beautiful geography of the body and its futurity. In lines such as, "Asperitas / is the wave that rises before the end / of something that looks most / like the world.." we are offered a new world, or at least the promise of its possibility. In this still-forming world, the body, in all its triumphs and losses, strangenesses and normalcies, in all the yet to be discovered and joyful states of neither, is fully present and visible. The emotional landscape of this process is reiterated as the natural world, as land, atmosphere, touch. "Queer, what you have in your hair is all down feathers, dandelion stems, and / the ways in which you’ve saved me. When we take new names, we give each / other permission." The new names in this book are ones you'll want to read aloud.
from All the Gay Saints
The truth is, as I sleep, everything directly above
my heart will be cauterized.
Facts are difficult
if you are able to recognize them
as fact. And I am scared
of my partner
being faced with my blood
because I love them.
When we talk of the future, my future chest is as flat
as our future backyard. We plant
a lemon tree and it grows
even in winter.
about What Runs Over
Born from the isolation of rural Pennsylvania, a life of homeschooling, and psychological and physical domestic abuse, Kayleb Rae Candrilli’s memoir in verse, What Runs Over, demands attention. Unfurling and unrelenting in its delivery, Candrilli has painted “the mountain” in excruciating detail. They show readers a world of Borax cured bear hides and canned peaches, of urine-filled Gatorade bottles and the syringe and all the syringe may carry. They show a violent world and its many personas. What Runs Over, too, is a story of rural queerness, of a transgender boy almost lost to the forest. The miracle of What Runs Over is that Candrilli has lived to write it at all.
Cover Art: Yutha Adiputra Yamanaka
Cover & Interior Design: Alban Fischer
Paperback, 97 pages
Dec 15 2017, ISBN 978-1-936919-35-2
Kaveh Akbar on What Runs Over
When Roethke said 'energy is the soul of poetry,' he might have been anticipating a book like What Runs Over, which is so full of energy it practically vibrates in your hand. Here, Candrilli’s speaker sticks their tongue 'into the heads / of venus fly traps just to feel the bite,' then later, burns holy books in the backyard and rolls around in the ashes until they become 'a painted god.' This is the verve of an urgent new poetic voice announcing itself to the world. As Candrilli writes: 'This is what I look like / when I’m trying to save myself.'
from What Runs Over
the hair mounding between my legs
makes me dwell on my lycanthropy
i black out and remember nothing
of what the neighbor boys leave
tangled there // candy wrappers fool’s
gold the silver head of a cotton mouth
their blood and mine // sperm that isn’t
yet sperm and so it’s un-listable
i imagine myself in this black lapse
(all wolf) falsely lustful and gnashing
i want to eat them wholly
and wake up as what I eat