Girl's Guide to Leaving
Author: Laura Villareal
Publisher: University of Wisconsin Press (2023)
Tumbleweeds and wandering cacti litter the page, coyotes croon at the prose. In poems haunted by specters of intimate partner violence, Girl’s Guide to Leaving considers what it means to escape the love that trapped you and find a temporary home in the barely cooled ashes of a wildfire.
“A folklore troubadour, Villareal ably unfolds a path through memory. Running wild and running home, this guide isn’t just for leaving but rather for making space in sites where one can ‘witness local miracles’ or to tell a heroine’s story without remorse. This is a rangy and ambitious book.”
—Carmen Giménez Smith
“Formally diverse, this collection wants to “tell you all hearts find good homes eventually” while moving through contrapuntals, prose blocks, and open field poems that articulate anything but statis, that articulate that perhaps the place we will find the most comfort for our hearts is in the act of forward motion, in the act of leaving.”
"Laura Villareal’s full-length debut rests upon the slow healing of myth-making, the retrospective balming of injury to lore. Grief is guarded in secret like a torn photograph in your shirt pocket. Leaving—a ritual ripe with a yearning to outrun the predatory stride of memory. Every escape charts new cartographies—away from homes that shelve your “whole self away / in the garage or attic,” smell of “Diesel cologne, brass & birdshot,” and towards a body habitable by your tenderest of parts. Girl’s Guide To Leaving moves through the curative wisdom of transit, unrestrained in its desire to flee and toss a lit match behind it."
—Ana Portnoy Brimmer