July Westhale’s deliciously subversive Via Negativa
Publisher’s Weekly calls Via Negativa “Stunning”!
Pub date: June 15, 2020
July Westhale is a shapeshifting poet of desire and violence, grief and forgiveness, trauma and loss transformed by resilience. After her gorgeous debut Trailer Trash explored the intricacies of class and gender, Via Negativa deftly weaves the sensual with the spiritual, reckoning with a religious inheritance and a powerful faith in pleasure, engaging in bold lyric conversation with the divine. These deliciously subversive poemsrange from California fires to church pews with equal parts grace and swagger, always charged with eroticism, rooted in the body, showing us again and again “the wildness of ourselves.” Via Negativa left me breathless.—D I A N A W H I T N E Y
Here are July Westhale’s new poems: where death smells like “waterlogged Pall Malls”; where a “freshly laundered” pickup truck idles outside the window; where a ravished young woman tramps to the kitchen in her “birthday body,” opens “thevault of the refrigerator” and rests her head on “the cool rationale of a cantaloupe.” These poems are dizzying, erotic, fiercely intelligent, and, in the best ways, many-minded. Via Negativa is a book by one of our finest young poets, fully present in the world, attuned to the dark mysteries of language and insight. —K E V I N P R U F E R
July Westhale is the real deal. I can feel her alive inside the poems, there is an experience wielded that I thoroughly trust. And the poems are so fresh and exciting that one leads to the next! —C A C O N R A D
I love the surprise of these meditations on creation – how joy rises up inside “flesh-failings;”how desire continually creates a “a vow of silence but a throat of song.”This is the deity I’ve wanted to know: one of “plural-silence.” And how thankful I am to have found July Westhale’s Via Negativa, a fellow seeker, in language I love: “all/engorged, all surrendering.” I am ever grateful to her for creating the queer-poem-church we’ve needed inside a “sentence small, eternal, hushed.” —T C T O L B E R T
July Westhale remains a poet of the highest order, and Via Negativa is an exquisite, spellbinding achievement.—D I R I Y E O S M A N
July Westhale is a poet, translator, and essayist living in Oakland, CA. She is the author of Via Negativa, Trailer Trash (winner of the 2016 Kore Press Book Award), The Cavalcade (Finishing Line Press), Quantifiable Data (Alley Cat Books), and Occasionally Accurate Science (Nomadic Press). Her essays, poems, fiction, and translations are published in numerous journals, magazines, and anthologies.
When July isn’t writing, she’s teaching and working as an editor for PULP Magazine, a publication devoted to sexuality and reproductive rights. She is also a community educator, working with all ages of students in all types of settings—in after school programs, community colleges, libraries, living rooms, bookstores, fields, etc. Her work focuses on dismantling the inaccessibility of creative writing and bringing it into a contemporary focus as a necessary way for marginalized communities to archive their experiences.
She is currently at work translating Patagonian poet, Rolando Cárdenas (1933-1990), with the hopes that her project will bring English-speaking audiences the work of writers censored and/or disappeared as a result of the 1973 coup d’état in Santiago.
July has received support and funding from the California Humanities Council, the University of Arizona Poetry Center, Alley Cat Books, Poets & Writers, Writing by Writers, Sewanee Writers’ Conference, and the Lambda Literary Foundation.