Ecologia, Sophia Anfinn Tonnessen
Hardback; 118 pages; 5.25”x7.5”
Publication Date: October 12, 2021
“An entirely original contribution to the mosaic of American poetry.” “Whitmanian exuberance and Dickinsonian canniness.” “A debut collection with panache and depth.” “Resonates with the humble magic of resilience.” “Gorgeous and invigorating.”
Sophia Anfinn Tonnessen’s debut collection, noteworthy for its experimental forms, long poems, and intentional repetitions, explores the intersections of gender, identity, and memory across time. Tonnessen is transgender, and her work captures the intense undeniability of an emerging self searching for a new ecology, both biological and political. The collection, shaped by serious and complex subjects, also features Carol Baskin from Tiger King, jokes about porn, and truly terrible puns, by design. Ecologia is profoundly intimate, yet not fragile. These are poems of courage, strength and faith in the self, no matter the form it might take. The poems soar in songs of celebration and protest, within a form that can best be described as the trans-lyric. Bodies, texts, memories, flowers all transform throughout the work, which brings a mystery and wonder to the collection.
Sophia Anfinn Tonnessen is a graduate of Columbia University, where she earned degrees in Creative Writing and Russian Literature. She presently studies Slavic Literature at the University of Michigan, and lives with hundreds of books and one neglected houseplant. Her work has appeared in Columbia Review, Poet Lore and the anthology New York’s Best Emerging Poets.
“Tonnessen’s poems examine transitions and transformations in all their danger and beauty… It’s particularly moving that the speaker in these poems, so often distracted by porn or TikTok or Netflix, continually achieves lyrical moments of grace that feel utterly authentic, making these seeming dislocations into a connected whole and a beautiful manifestation of her experiences. A well-crafted, tender collection that emphasizes exploration.”
“Tonnessen reaches all the way for the blue divine—and gets there… [Reminding readers that] a basic structure of desire is the mapping of thoughts and wishes into our bodies, and that such mapping changes everything: wish and memory, movement and body, dream and name. The book’s wild ride finds its poetry in many modes, from the lyrical to the raucous. Go read it…”
“With passion and precision, ardor and humor, Whitmanian exuberance and Dickinsonian canniness, Sophia Anfin Tonnessen’s Ecologia springs up from the “wounded place” that is also “holy ground.” I don’t know when I’ve read a debut collection with such panache and such depth. Tracking the poet’s transition, this book discovers tremendous vitality in its gorgeous and invigorating openness to change. Here’s an entirely original contribution to the mosaic of American poetry.”
Peter Campion, poet and literary critic, and author of One Summer Evening at the Falls and Radical as Reality: Form and Freedom in American Poetry, among other collections.
“Ecologia is truly a study of the home, equally comfortable exploring the room of the body as it is exploring the room of the mind, though the speaker resides in uncomfortable liminality. This first collection of poems by Tonnessen holds a Heraclitan tension on the topic of transition. From shifts of body, to shifts of love, to shifts of work, from shifts of diction and syntax, from shifts of lyricism to the more linear, this collection culminates them eruditely and with inspiring grace.”
David Tomas Martinez, poet and author of Hustle and Post Traumatic Hood Disorder
“With earnestness and urgency, Ecologia chronicles a transformation, a translation of energy and spirit within the force and fragility of the physical body. The poems process this energy with the momentum of the natural world-a storm surge, a dazed sparrow, a shadow passing over long grasses. Tonnessen does not spare us the brutality of rebirth but allows relief in detailing the humor, the eroticism, and the ordinary, delicate beauty of this life. This book reminds us of what it is to inhabit a body, to live with uncertainty, to hurt and to heal, and it resonates with the humble magic of resilience: And the grace in falling too, as rain comes to rescue. / How many times have I been buried, and come back again?”
Carey McHugh, poet and author of American Gramophone