Black Lawrence Press

Decency

Praise

  • "Can a book that’s deeply ethical also be charming? It turns out, yes.

    Sulak’s geopolitical borders may be porous, but her wit is a taut wire. There is delight all through this collection—Gertrude Stein’s violent delightfulness. This poet strews coins, corn, meteor showers, and slender men in bright shirts. She also thinks through the most brutal things we do to each other. As lovers. As nations. As humans. Sulak’s gold isn’t adornment. It is Marianne Moore’s 'unfalsifying sun.'"
    —Joy Katz, author of All You Do Is Perceive, The Garden Room, and Fabulae
  • "Marcela Sulak is that rare kind of poet who looks simultaneously outward and inward, who knows how to find the music in the details and textures of individual and collective experience. 'Understand the world is filled with people/eager to bend/things to their will,' she writes, about halfway through this musical, personal, political book. Decency is committed to understanding and recording the ways the individual operates in relation to society’s mores and harms, and in relation to the hurtling freight train of history."
    —Daisy Fried, author of Women's Poetry: Poems and Advice, My Brother is Getting Arrested Again, and She Didn’t Mean to Do It
  • "'Dear Other Woman,” Sulak writes, 'every morning now for weeks/ I’ve felt your fingers/ gently slide up through my throat/ as I awoke.' And indeed, in these sophisticated, elegiac, wry, graceful poems, Sulak again and again performs miracles of ventriloquism and witness. Whether she is writing about Cortez or Catherine de Medici, the poems retain a deeply personal feel. Links to the poet’s own history are made with a wondrous ease, and each narrative opens out into a moment of universal resonance. As we move from the fields of Texas to the streets of Jerusalem and even to the horrors of Auschwitz, what ultimately holds this worldly collection together is a formal ingenuity, a microscopic eye, and a patient, compassionate voice that translates the world for us, 'one grain, one blade, one pigment at a time.'
    —Steven Gehrke, author of Michelangelo’s Seizure, The Pyramids of Malpighi, and The Resurrection Machine

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Marcela Sulak

Marcela Malek Sulak is the author of two previous Black Lawrence Press poetry titles, Decency (2015) and Immigrant (2010). She’s co-edited with Jacqueline Kolosov the 2015 Rose Metal Press title Family Resemblance. An Anthology and Exploration of 8 Hybrid Literary Genres. Sulak, who translates from the Hebrew, Czech, and French, is a 2019 NEA Translation Fellow, and her fourth book-length translation of poetry: Twenty Girls to Envy Me: Selected Poems of Orit Gidali, was nominated for the 2017 PEN Award for Poetry in Translaiton (University of Texas Press). She’s also translation Karel Hynek Macha’s May and Karel Jaromir Erben’s Bouquet of Czech Folktales (Twisted Spoon Press), and Mutombo Nkulu-N’Sengha’s Bela-Wenda (Host Publications), from the French. Her essays have appeared in The Boston Review, The Iowa Review, The Los Angeles Review of Books, Asymptote, and Rattle, among others. She coordinates the poetry track of the Shaindy Rudoff Graduate Program in Creative Writing at Bar-Ilan University, where she is an associate professor in American Literature.

Sulak Author page

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