“Some girls are not made,” torrin a. greathouse writes, “but spring from the dirt.” Guided by a devastatingly precise hand, Wound from the Mouth of a Wound—selected by Aimee Nezhukumatathil as the winner of the 2020 Ballard Spahr Prize for Poetry—challenges a canon that decides what shades of beauty deserve to live in a poem. greathouse celebrates “buckteeth & ulcer.” She odes the pulp of a bedsore. She argues that the vestigial is not devoid of meaning, and in kinetic and vigorous language, she honors bodies the world too often wants dead.


These poems ache, but they do not surrender. They bleed, but they spit the blood in our eyes. Their imagery pulses on the page, fractal and fluid, blooming in a medley of forms: broken essays, haibun born of erasure, a sonnet meant to be read in the mirror. greathouse’s poetry demands more of language and those who wield it. “I’m still learning not to let a stranger speak / me into a funeral.”


Concrete and evocative, Wound from the Mouth of a Wound is a testament to persistence, even when the body is not allowed to thrive. greathouse—elegant, vicious, “a one-girl armageddon” draped in crushed velvet—teaches us that fragility is not synonymous with flaw.


"Wound from the Mouth of a Wound is a densely packed treasure trove of verse. Bodies rise up here as sites of gender, trauma, ability, and violence. A gut punch you won't soon shake off, this is one of 2020's absolute best releases." - Bustle, The Best Books of 2020


"Sometimes, if I'm lucky, every year or so, there is a poetry collection that completely floors me, unnerves me, and opens my eyes by sheer force of words. May I introduce you to Wound from the Mouth of a Wound? . . . Each page, each sentence, surprises and cuts deep and will keep you reading, unable to turn away." - Kate Layte, Papercuts J.P.


"[Wound from the Mouth of a Wound] positively thrums with the stuff of life: blood, sweat, pus, tears, spit. Like the body, these poems feel both breathtakingly tenuous and surreally strong; they are a celebration--of survival and of the effort it takes to do just that." - Refinery29, Best New Books of Fall 2020


"In [greathouse's] debut, they so brilliantly render emotion and empowerment in the context of transness, disability, and art that it leaves the reader breathless. There is a dazzling deftness to greathouse's simultaneous construction and destruction of poems, bodies, life, that makes this collection unforgettable." - Book Marks, Most Anticipated Poetry Collections of Fall/Winter 2020


"These poems are like the sharp, bright rays that pierce through on a stormy day: illuminating, unsparing, & viciously beautiful." -- Books Are Magic, Recommended Reading

Wound from the Mouth of a Wound by torrin a. greathouse

  • Milkweed Editions 2020

    New paperback

    88 pages