From summer's blonde height of swarming sunlight, through autumns gentle falling, and into the dark spell of winter of 2012, Emily Vogel both endured and reveled in the pregnancy which brought her first child in early December of that year. The poems in this book trace the trajectory of the pregnant months and into the first year of her daughter, Clare Sophia's life. Some of these speak from underneath the tenuous surfaces of water where post-partum tendencies ensue, and some from the overwhelming joy of having given birth, as in relation to her husband, who gave the seed for the blessing of life, and also in the transformation of the new mother-skin. These poems are about a shifting in perspective and identity, and about growth and renewal, both in the world, and within the self.
Emily Vogel's gift in First Words is an impressive one: the ability to weld the cosmic with the spiritual with the domestic and make it all vibrate with a muscular lyricism. A remarkable and prolific writer, she continues to surprise and delight the reader in poems that resonate with intellectual curiosity and emotional honesty. In this collection, we inhabit the cadences of the self in all its entanglements—romantic, familial, social, historical—and know ourselves better for it. Here, every poem is essential.
—José Antonio Rodríguez, author of The Shallow End of Sleep
Emily Vogel's poems move as easily and naturally as breathing, pivoting between the everyday and the uncanny on a series of unexpected turns of phrase that makes each line a fresh adventure. This fluent shuttling between high and low, between varied and contrasting states of being, creates an arresting series of luminous—or even numinous—surprises. One never quite knows what's coming next. Here is a poet worth watching.
—Tom Travisano, editor of Words in Air
The poems in Emily Vogel's First Words do what Vogel always does best: they look at the world from unexpected angles and shake up her readers' expectations. Vogel works from a deep emotional center with lyric precision and rich narrative depiction. Her imagery is both startling and stunning. Filled with sensitivities and insights, these poems point toward things broader than their visible content as they reflect upon the raw mysteries of being human. Gritty, gutsy, and infinitely vulnerable, Vogel never completely closes the door on any poem; instead, she leaves all the doors slightly ajar, thus creating a new resonances, lit sparks that don't go out when the reading is finished.
—Adele Kenny, Poetry Editor, Tiferet Journal