We at Superstition Review are proud to share the news of poet Rochelle Hurt’s new book!
Selected as the eighteenth volume in the Marie Alexander Poetry Series at White Pine Press, The Rusted City is a hybrid collection of prose poetry and verse that reads like a novel in poems. Told through the experiences of “the smallest sister,” it is a coming-of-age fable set in the haunting dreamscape of the Rust Belt, where industrial corrosion becomes a funhouse mirror of personal loss. Poems from The Rusted City have been published in the Cincinnati Review, Mid-American Review, Versal, Superstition Review, New Delta Review, and elsewhere.
Praise for The Rusted City:
“In Hurt’s sparkling debut, the tinny, melancholic, gorgeous stir of Baudelaire’s heartbroken metropolis is heard again, but this time its flesh and spirit are rusted. Its lung is rusted, its heart and belly are rusted. Its mother, father, and sister are all rusted. In this city, though, rust is no death rattle but the life rustle. In this city, the prose poem scrapes the sky until rusted clouds burst, sending rusted beauty clattering down. Hurt brings the prose poem back to life.”
—Sabrina Orah Mark
“The Rust Belt Gothic is a new political-aesthetic category, wherein the ignored or statistical pain of the nation’s abandoned industrial heart is made to glow with a Poe-like anti-vigor, an undead (but unnatural) force. Rochelle Hurt’s Youngstown is rife with fairy-tale inmates—a smallest sister, a favorite father, a quiet mother—yet the ruling spirits of the place are not humans but the corpsey avatars of place itself—the shuttered factory, the ruined ballroom, the big hungry plural baby of ‘the century’ with its singular familiar, Rust. Rust paints its red sigil everywhere, blurring the inside and outside of bodies, homes, the city itself, which eventually, like a body, must split open to expose its red and rusty heart. This is a gory, half-delirious business, wonder- and grief-stricken, urgent and exacting, tender and hot, like an iron filing shifting in the palm.”
“In Rochelle Hurt’s breathtaking mixed work of prose poetry and verse, a history of place is caked in a ‘deep layer of red dust.’ The Rust Belt’s rattling structures and sutured-up asphalt roads are palpable here in every syncopated line and every musical sentence—in the flash of a worker’s lunch pail and in each drink stirred by a rusty nail that leaves ‘iron orange streaks’ on readers’ tongues. And we know that this too is the taste of our blood. We know that in the broken heart of a country, what beats is the familiar pulse of a mother, a father, and siblings, slowly hammering scraps to hold family together. We know, from this new century, that it is art like this that endures.”
—Oliver de la Paz
“As moving as it is formally innovative, Rochelle Hurt’s The Rusted City is an elegy for the Midwest rust belt, and for a history that is not yet even past—and also the gorgeous tale of a family told through the eyes of its smallest daughter, who greets her rusted world with every magic word of childhood, all the serious play and terrifying loves of her youth.”
“Through the tiny window of the prose poem, The Rusted City paints a surreal landscape of an alternate Midwestern Rust Belt. Small domestic events resonate with the description of centuries (eons even) of the city’s history, causing macro and micro levels of sense-making in this strange, beautiful, and heart-breaking world. Through surprising image and impeccable timing, Rochelle Hurt has somehow managed to make a single family into an apt metaphor for American life. The Rusted City is outstanding, unique, and new—one of the best books I’ve read this year.”
“Scrap gardens, metal shards, blankets of rust. A city collapsing, a house shut against itself, everywhere fragile bodies. A chronic cough, corrosion, exhaustion haunting the landscape. In a story too painful to tell, in a flood of stories so small yet so heavy that only archetypes can carry their weight (The Oldest Sister, The Quiet Mother), in increments of time so grand, so trivial (The Century of Silences, Spring Cleaning), Rochelle Hurt manifests shifts of perspective that are at once tectonic and barely perceptible. Her portrait of the hapless Rusted City and its inhabitants is unsettling, provocative, visionary, its magic hard won—a phoenix rising out of ash.”