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Abigail Chabitnoy earned her MFA in poetry at Colorado State University and was a 2016 Peripheral Poets fellow. Her poems have appeared in Hayden’s Ferry ReviewBoston ReviewTin HouseGulf CoastLitHub, and Red Ink among others. She is a Koniag descendant and member of the Tangirnaq Native Village in Kodiak, Alaska, grew up in Pennsylvania, and currently resides in Colorado. How to Dress a Fish is her debut poetry collection.

How to Dress A Fish

Wesleyan University Press
2020 Shortlist
United States

Judges’ Citation

Bringing languagelessness into language, Abigail Chabitnoy’s How to Dress a Fish is an act of remythologizing and personal re-collection, a text of redress to the violence of US colonialism.

Bringing languagelessness into language, Abigail Chabitnoy’s How to Dress a Fish is an act of remythologizing and personal re-collection, a text of redress to the violence of US colonialism. Like the contronym cleave, like swallowed fish that appear whole, her poems assemble a narrative of displacement and emergence, of that which is half-revived and half-buried, to address instability and unify across divides. With gestures of archival investigation and assemblage, the poems move with undercurrent, sections, elision, and invention into voicings of self, land, story, and mythic place. ‘One face is not enough/ to adapt/ to survive/ to be both predator and prey/ and a shark is after all/ not so different’. How to Dress a Fish speaks of division’s expression and history’s fracturing violence. This is a mending inquiry.


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