Thoughts and Prayers

ALISSA QUART


“The poet laureate of the Precariat” —Barbara Ehrenreich


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About the Book

“You walk into Thoughts and Prayers like it’s a familiar pop cultural fun house—then you get drawn into one of the mirrors and find you’re actually deep in someplace very real: fleshy, frightening, full of anguished intelligence and bitter fun.” —Mary Gaitskill

“Alissa Quart’s poems are nimble and seething, capturing our baroquely scurrilous world. She writes across the holes of what’s been lost, hopeless and strangely optimistic at once.”
—Eileen Myles

“Quart’s poems have impeccable technique and pleasure-giving verve. A book of grit, danger, and paradoxical elegance.” —Wayne Koestenbaum

Thoughts and Prayers is a beautiful and startling volume of poetry about our political existence. With both humor and luminosity, it gets at the personal and collective emotional experience of American public life, from the 1970s to the 1990s Democrats, through the collapse of the news industry, to the burlesque Trump era.

120 pages • Paperback ISBN 978-1-68219-216-0 • E-book 978-1-68219-220-7

About the Author

Alissa Quart author photo

Photo © Ash Fox
space after caption

Alissa Quart is the executive director of the Economic Hardship Reporting Project. She is the author of the poetry collection Monetized and four non-fiction books: Squeezed: Why Our Families Can’t Afford America, Republic of Outsiders, Hothouse Kids, and Branded: The Buying and Selling of Teenagers. Her poems have appeared in Granta, the London Review of Books, and The Nation, among many other publications. She writes The Guardian’s “Outclassed” column and contributes to a range of publications including The New York Times and The New York Review of Books.

Read an Excerpt

An excerpt from Sakhalin

I.

Sanctuary Island, Sakhalin,
a Russian penal colony.
Anton Chekhov traveled
here by rail, long
months from Moscow,
tubercular. Took
a transcendent census
of inmates, freedmen,
annexes, forests then
burdocks, nettles.
Tragic beautiful accounting.
The Better, the Verst.
The people counted not
named elsewhere:
The Oroks, the Nivkhs.
58 living residents,
40 houses.
No ideas but in things.
No things but in numbers.

Americans went Wild
West. O Pioneers.
Sioux. Russians had
Wild East. Meet the Ainu.
Koreans were also
coerced to Sakhalin.
They appear in my
small grey Penguin
edition of Chekhov’s Sakhalin
about his time in this prison
wilderness,a Russian Turner
thesis.A Second Life.

My media prison,
Manhattan island.
The digital interface,
my rattling train, with games
of whack-a-mole, defaced
Jewish cemeteries, hackers,
bad billionaires. Feed
after feed. Russia throwing
elections to Trump’s golden tower.
Census and OSHA numbers
horribly pretty.
49,000 retail workers have
repetitive stress disability.

Chekhov in Sakhalin
briefly exchanged the T.B.
that would kill him for
the participle, innocent
men hanging in
a Siberian wilderness.
All data, all
unaccountable.

I write
the whole 19th century
was poverty porn.

No ideas but in things.
No ideas but in numbers.