Cover of Advice from the lights by Stephanie Burt. There are triangles in the colors purple pink and green, circles made of black dots, and butterflies scattered around the cover. The text is in pink and green on a black organic shape in the center.

Advice from the Lights

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Author: Stephanie Burt

Publisher: Graywolf Press (2017)

Advice from the Lights is a brilliant and candid exploration of gender and identity and a series of looks at a formative past. It’s part nostalgia, part confusion, and part an ongoing wondering: How do any of us achieve adulthood? And why would we want to, if we had the choice? This collection is woven from and interrupted by extraordinary sequences, including Stephanie poems about Stephen’s female self; poems on particular years of the poet’s early life, each with its own memories, desires, insecurities, and pop songs; and versions of poems by the Greek poet Callimachus, whose present-day incarnation worries (who doesn’t?) about mortality, the favor of the gods, and the career of Taylor Swift. The collection also includes poems on politics, location, and parenthood. Taken all together, this is Stephen Burt’s most personal and most accomplished collection, an essential work that asks who we are, how we become ourselves, and why we make art.

“The brightest and most inviting of Burt’s collections for readers of any, all, and no genders.”

–Boston Review