Ghost Sentence, by Mary Flanagan

“Incendiary, dizzying, deadpan, GHOST SENTENCE is a love letter, an ultimatum, a wildly poetic survival guide to the death throes of the patriarchy, our age of bogus authority, white noise, and disembodied menace. Flanagan’s charged lines shimmer between desire and disaster: “everyone knows it’s not safe to/go out on a brimstone night/ especially with you”; “leaves still cling to the trees but/the sun is telling them to drop dead.” This book coins a new language for a world that blazes all around us. GHOST SENTENCE is brilliant, contemporary to the millisecond. “

D. NURKSE, author of eleven books of poetry including Love in the Last Days: After Tristan and Iseult (2017), A Night in Brooklyn (2012), The Border Kingdom (2008), and Burnt Island (2006). His recent prizes include a Literature Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and a Guggenheim fellowship. He has also written on human rights and teaches at Sarah Lawrence College.

“Written under the spell of 2016 election and under the weather of our local dictator’s inauguration, GHOST SENTENCE plunges into the chaos to give us a core sampling, deeply personal and political. Our sentence may be dire, but the phantom grammars, crypt words, semantic branchings, and spectral logics of this hauntology resist the consumerist doublespeak of now. Flanagan’s “voracious mouth” playfully spews “a hot core of knowing” at lovers and dictators alike. She weaponizes poetic structures by loading them with history, philosophy, theory, heart, humor, and an intimate sense of you. Yes, you were waiting for this book.” 

—CHRISTINE HUME, author of Musca Domestica (2000), Alaskaphrenia (2004), and Shot (2010), Hume is also Professor of English at the Creative Writing Program at Eastern Michigan University.

“These poems begin with personal concerns which find themselves afloat and submerged in the currents of today’s political waters. “_Are you near_ or / _Can you swim?_” Mary Flanagan asks, posting updates with God, wondering at America’s endless varieties of toilet paper and fake news, and meeting a vampire who is neither teen, nor paranormal, nor romantic. GHOST SENTENCE makes something hauntingly real out of several sorts of profound, contemporary crises.”

— NICK MONTFORT, author of Autopia (2016), the collaboration 2×6 (2016), #! (2014), and forthcoming, The Truelist (2017). He is Professor of Media Studies/Writing at MIT.

“Grief at a lost love, and grief and fury at a lost America, power Mary Flanagan’s compelling, original Ghost Sentence. The private and the public merge: a personal voice and sensibility reacting to a lost, terribly flawed personal love (no less missed because flawed); and a grief-stricken, rage-fueled depiction of what it’s like to be living though this American moment. Ghost Sentence is passionate, original, and oddly bracing—a book not to be missed.”

PATRICIA CARLIN, author of Second Nature(2017), Quantum Jitters(2009) and Original Green 2003), as well as Shakespeare’s Mortal Men (1993). She has received fellowships from The MacDowell Colony and VCCA. She teaches literature and poetry writing at The New School, and she co-edits the poetry journal Barrow Street.

Buy it now on Amazon, maryflanagan.com, and via order from your local bookstore.


Mary Flanagan has written or edited five books and writes across genres including essays, poetry, fiction, and opinion pieces for USA Today, Huffington Post, The San Francisco Chronicle, and more. Her book Critical Play is essential standard-issue reading for those interested in, or studying, computer games. Her poetry has appeared in journals such as The Iowa Review, Barrow Street, The Pinch, and FENCE. She has garnered numerous accolades and awards including an honorary degree in Design from Illinois Tech, and has been a Brown Foundation fellow, an ACLS fellow, and a fellow at the MacDowell Colony, as well as a distinguished scholar at Cornell and the University of Toronto. She was recently a Museum Scholar at the Getty Museum in Los Angeles. She has exhibited artwork at the Whitney Museum of American Art, The Guggenheim, and ZKM Germany. She is also the Sherman Fairchild Professor of Digital Humanities at Dartmouth College.

Find her online at maryflanagan.com and on twitter @criticalplay.

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