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If You Have to Go

Katie Ford
I am content because before me looms the hope of love.
I do not have it; I do not yet have it.
It is a bird strong enough to lead me by the rope it bites;
unless I pull, it is strong enough for me.
I do worry the end of my days might come
and I will not yet have it. But even then I will be brave
upon my deathbed, and why shouldn’t I be?
I held things here, and I felt them.
—From “Psalm 40”
The poems in Katie Ford’s fourth collection implore their audience—the divine and the human—for attention, for revelation, and, perhaps above all, for companionship. The extraordinary sequence at the heart of this book taps into the radical power of the sonnet form, bending it into a kind of metaphysical and psychological outcry. Beginning in the cramped space of selfhood—in the bedroom, cluttered with doubts, and in the throes of marital loss—these poems edge toward the clarity of “what I can know and admit to knowing.” In song and in silence, Ford inhabits the rooms of anguish and redemption with scouring exactness. This is poetry that “can break open, // it can break your life, it will break you // until you remain.” If You Have to Go is Ford’s most luminous and moving collection.

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The transformative new book from “one of the most important American poets at work today” (Dunya Mikhail)

About the Author

Katie  Ford
Credit: Kate Lahey
Katie Ford is the author of If You Have to Go and three previous poetry collections: Blood Lyrics, named a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize; Colosseum, recognized as a “Best Book of the Year” by Publishers Weekly and the Virginia Quarterly Review; and Deposition. The recipient of a Lannan Literary Fellowship and the Larry Levis Reading Prize, she teaches at the University of California, Riverside.
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Katie Ford reading at Skylight Books

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Reading with David St. John.

Katie Ford reading at Powell's Books on Hawthorne

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In conversation with Mary Szybist.

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Reading and in conversation with Katie Peterson.

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Reading and in conversation with Shane McCrae.

Katie Ford reading at Hugo House

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Reading and in conversation with Rae Armantrout.


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