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The Truth Is 

a full-length poetry book, $16.95​

from Black Lawrence Press, 2019

Advance Praise

Perhaps you think you have a sense of what it is to be a survivor. Or perhaps, like me, you are one. But let me tell you: no familiarity with trauma will prepare you for the singular world of Avery M. Guess’ book, steeped as it is in a Florida childhood of Spanish moss and sea cucumbers, armadillos and bats, the whole place hurricane-wrecked, reeking of marine debris, the flooded carpet replaced by a bright red shag in which a father creeps across to his daughter’s bed at night. Here you have not a story of recovery but the day-by-day blast of fire it takes to choose life, or more accurately, to reclaim a body that’s been heisted, so much so that to feel anything a return to the body’s animal self is the only thing that works—sometimes by cutting but also by slipping into the skin of an alligator or growing antlers where her mother’s nails broke off in her scalp. Reader, I swear to you—no book, not since I first found Sharon Olds or Linda McCarriston or Rachel McKibbens—has scorched my heart with such furious beauty. Nickole Brown, Author of Fanny Says & Sister

The Truth Is— an astonishingly powerful debut collection by Avery M. Guess—holds the multiple facets of trauma up to the light with a piercing, rainbowed clarity. These are poems that sensitively unfold legacies of childhood sexual abuse and mental illness with fierce candor, while simultaneously performing the magical alchemies of transforming pain into riveting art. Linguistically taut, and imagistically deft, these lovely and harrowing poems linger and haunt. If you are a survivor, this is a book that will make you feel seen. If you are not a survivor, this is a book that will help you to see. Avery M. Guess is a stunning poet with a gorgeous talent, and a generously capacious heart. —Lee Ann Roripaugh, Author of Dandarians

In The Truth Is Avery M. Guess ensnares her reader in a terrifying drama of intimacy’s invasions—incest, abuse, institutionalization, suicide, illness—that the reader, like the speaker, cannot escape. And yet, all the while, here too is the grace and salvation only the natural world offers us; here too is the guardian strength of ginkgo trees, thunderstorms, the Everglades, the ocean, the Miami sun. Here too is a whole woman’s body, which, once she discovers she is never separate from the loving silence on which this good earth turns, becomes something so much greater than what she endures. And so do we. —Rebecca Gayle Howell, author of American Purgatory and Render: An Apocalypse

Avery Guess's debut collection of poems The Truth Is is a brave document of survivorhood. The poems bear witness to childhood domestic & sexual violence, and ask the reader to listen with compassion, love, and tenderness. Formally varied, at turns, spare, narrative, and fantastical, the poems move with agility through possibility while refusing easy answers. Guess's book offers a necessary testimony for our times. —Cathy Linh Che, Author of Split

It is impossible to read the poems in this collection without taking a breath after each one, calculating everything at stake. The Truth Is dismantles our tidy narratives—its poems thrash with honesty, renouncing shame while demanding we, as readers, help carry the load. It challenges us to put more effort into the terms: witness, survivor, risk, and reckoning. —Rachel McKibbens, Author of blud, Into the Dark & Emptying Field, and Pink Elephant

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Image description: Three spineless sea urchins, the largest at the bottom and the smallest at the top, are stacked on one another against a green background. Very light green text reads: The Truth Is in larger print and Avery M. Guess in smaller print

"Then she read “The Alligator Girl Becomes”and my perspective revolved.  It felt like a bodily barometer change, the way one might apprehend an imminent lightning strike. Goosebumps ran along my arms; hair stood up on my neck. At the end, I sat stunned. I can still feel that poem."  - Christine Stewart-Nuñez reviews The Truth Is in Wordgathering: A Journal of Disability Poetry and Literature.

"A skillful confessional that dissects a history of trauma and recovery, The Truth Is by Avery Guess demands that the reader does not look away from the reality of the impact of abuse. Though the content addresses issues of sexual abuse, suicide, and mental health with honesty, there is hope here as well." - Donna Vorreyer reviews The Truth Is in Stirring: A Literary Collection.

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