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The 2019 Whiting Selection Committee

The most unsettling of lullabies, Kayleb Rae Candrilli’s verse memoir unfolds with savage grace as it lays bare the violence and isolation of a trans person’s coming of age. It is a dazzling addition to literature about rural childhoods. In looping imagery of animals and decay, Candrilli gives their uncompromising vision of the wages of familial love and the various ways a young person can devise their own escape. They show how language has the power to shape and to misshape the self, and their work feels as urgent and electric as a living thing.

T Kira Madden on Water I Won't Touch

Kayleb Rae Candrilli mesmerizes again in Water I Won’t Touch, a work of acoustical grace, and the marvelment of lived-in joy through settled dust. 

T Fleischmann on All the Gay Saints

What a pleasure to come to this book, populated by clouds and ATVs, and set between legs. Like paintings by Hernan Bas that inspire many of the poems, Candrilli offers a rural town recognizable and unreal, all bodies of cattail and blood-- a queer place where the poet has “built a flower / bed from a bruised / trachea.” This is where badass sissies rise out of smoke and nuclear waste, loving and loved with beauty that makes them tough. Candrilli sings of that tough beauty. Listen, and we can learn from such a song, and from its lasting joy. 

Barbara Berman  on All the Gay Saints

“The most beautiful / things are temporary.” These wise, spare words remind us of how life lessons are observed, absorbed, and, if we are blessed, transformed into nuanced kindness, forging a charitable interior that helps keep political despair at bay.

The final poem in this riveting collection is love poetry at its finest: "Husband, we have yet to learn / so many things. Can you feel / the beauty of our unknowing?" Here, and on every page, Candrilli displays prismatic strength, grace, and hope.

TC Tolbert on What Runs Over

Part fist-to-the-face-of-God, part pain-drunk-howl, part sex-slick-reverie, Kayleb Rae Candrilli’s debut book, What Runs Over, is brutal and necessary. You will be taken to a mountain, dear reader, and there you will experience the violence of isolation and proximity. But you can (and I do) trust a writer who says, “the pain of being cut to pieces is lovely” and then pays equally deft attention to the pain, the pieces, the loveliness, and the cut.

sam sax on What Runs Over

Kayleb Rae Candrilli's first book What Runs Over is a triumphant, daring, & filthy collection of letters. It grips sorrow, kink, desire, memory, family, queerness, nostalgia between its gnarled teeth & shakes. When I finished reading it, I was shaking. Be careful reader as this book will leave you shook.  

ALOK on "A Poem for the Start of a New Decade"

here i am: yet another beautiful, surprised face, recently gutted by this poem. i thought i knew how to write, and then i read this poem. i thought i knew how to love, and then i read this poem. i thought i knew what poetry was, and then this poem it taught me that writing is only part of it, it’s mostly about the living. it’s about being there, saying the words, going through the motions on the surface, all the while writing the poem underneath. this world, it is our field work. in other words: we live so that we can write poems and we write poems so that we can live. my favorite poems, like this one, involve growing a branch, teaching it how to saw, and then chopping yourself down, just so you can show the world your tree rings on the other side. it’s that lethal, and that loving, that tender, and that terrifying. look: i don’t know the answer to the proverbial question about a tree falling alone in a forest. but what i do know is that i heard this poem, loud and clear. and that i will never be the same because of it.






Other Things: 

Past Readings:

  • Kean University, Commencement Keynote Speaker, Lavender Graduation, 2023

  • Arcadia Visiting Writer, Philadelphia, 2023

  • New York Public Library, Virtual, 2022

  • Saturnalia Anniversary Reading, Philadelphia, 2022

  • Southeast Review AWP Offsite, Philadelphia, 2022

  • University of Scranton Visiting Writer Reading, November, 2021

  • Frieda / No Tokens Reading, October, 2021

  • Drexel Writing Festival Reading, May, 2021

  • Copper Canyon Press Reading, April, 2021

  • NC State Visiting Writer Reading, March, 2021

  • The Rumpus/SMOL Fail Reading, March, 2021

  • Saturnalia Books Reading with Natalie Diaz, December, 2020

  • University of Alabama Reading and Talk, October, 2020. 

  • Bluegrass Writers Residency Reading, July, 2020. 

  • Gulf Coast Reading, Austin, October, 2019. 

  • University of Kentucky, Lexington, September, 2019. 

  • Bryant Park Summer Reading Series, NYC, July, 2019. 

  • Unbound Book Festival Reading, Stevens College, Columbia, 2019

  • Rutger’s Visiting Writers Series, Wooden Shoe, Philadelphia, 2019

  • TriQuarterly Reading, Taborspace, Portland, March. 2019

  • Muzzle & Vinyl Reading, Cup & Bar, Portland. March. 2019

  • Hayden’s Ferry Review Reading, The Jasmine Pear Tea House, Portland. March. 2019

  • Whiting Foundation Winners Reading, The Strand Rare Books Room, NYC. March. 2019

  • No Tokens Issue 7 Launch, PowerHouse Arena, NYC. May. 2018

  • Dahlak Paradise, Philadelphia, PA. May. 2018

  • Lambda Literary Finalist Reading, Philadelphia, PA. May. 2018

  • Blue Marble Books Reading Series, Mount Airy, PA. May. 2018

  • YesYes Books Showcase, Tattooed Mom, Philadelphia, PA. April. 2018

  • YesYes Books Showcase, Berl's Poetry Shop, NYC. April. 2018

  • YesYes Books Showcase, Bryant Park Reading Series, NYC, April. 2018

  • Iowa's Writer's House, Iowa City, IA. April, 2018

  • Lit Walk at Mission Creek Festival, Iowa City, IA. April. 2018

  • Excuse My Dust, Good Good Comedy Theater, Philadelphia, PA, March. 2018

  • YesYes Books Offsite Reading, AWP, Tampa, FL. March. 2018

  • No Tokens Offsite Reading, AWP, Tampa, FL. March. 2018

  • Grist Journal Offsite Reading, AWP, Tampa, FL. March. 2018

  • Saturnalia, Wooden Shoe, Philadelphia, PA. February. 2018

  • Tragic: The Gathering, Wooden Shoe, Philadelphia, PA. January. 2018

  • LitCrawl Portland, The Cleaner’s at Ace Hotel, OR. November. 2017

  • Brilliant Voices, YesYes Books & Gramma Poetry, Zoe Events, Seattle, WA. November. 2017

  • Kissing Caskets, Book Release Party, Solae’s Lounge, 1801 NE Alberta, OR. November. 2017

  • Portland Community College, Cascade Campus Reading, Portland, OR. November. 2017

  • Portland Community College, Sylvania Campus Reading, Portland, OR. November. 2017

  • Portland Community College, Cascade Campus Class Visit, Portland, OR. November. 2017

  • Lambda Literary Emerging Voices Reading, Los Angeles, CA. August. 2017

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