Book Launch and Poetry Reading with Genevieve Betts

With her new collection of poetry "A New Kind of Tongue," published by Flowersong Press

WHEN: Sunday, September 17th, at 5pm

COST: Free (donations most welcome)


Genevieve Betts is a poet from the southwest. Raised in Tempe, Arizona, she spent much of her time backpacking all around the state with her family, from as far south as the Huachuca Mountains to as far north as the Grand Canyon. She attended Arizona State University, where she earned a BA in English Literature and an MFA in creative writing. Her first poetry collection, An Unwalled City (Prolific Press), came out in 2015. Her work has appeared in Sleet Magazine, Minerva Rising, New Mexico Review, Cloudbank, Hotel Amerika, The Tishman Review, The Literary Review, Sky Island Journal, and in other journals and anthologies. She teaches creative writing for Santa Fe Community College, as well as for Arcadia University's low-residency MFA program in Glenside, PA.


As a collection, Genevieve Betts’ A New Kind of Tongue includes poems that are sometimes quirky, sometimes lyrical, sometimes edgy, and sometimes humorous. Language—our understanding of it, its regionality, and its many intricacies—is a main theme rooted within the book’s strong sense of place. Between the east coast, specifically Brooklyn, and the southwest, specifically Santa Fe, comparisons are made, narratives are shared, and observations are acknowledged. A series of centos is also braided throughout this collection that exclusively uses language from outside texts such as Haruki Murakami's Kafka on the Shore, Tom Robbins' Even Cowgirls Get the Blues, David Mitchell’s Ghostwritten, and Angela Carter’s short story “The Bloody Chamber.” Betts reshapes the language of these texts to speak her own voice through the voices of others. This voice and her lens takes a feminist perspective with subject matter that includes family, work, the political climate, and other aspects of life, revealing hidden truths alongside shared truths of these recently-lived experiences.

A New Kind of Tongue bristles with the shockwaves of such urgent conversation and collision of the body (both human and non-human), and the malign language and dictates—of capitalism, of policing, of patriarchal expectations of “motherhood” and sex—that bombard the body. Punctuated by a series of brilliantly destabilizing centos, A New Kind of Tongue flicks forth a fresh and reinvented linguistics of the liminal, of the body cartwheeling amid portals, temporal and geologic. But the lucid dream that these poems spin is not merely nightmarish, but the nightmarish as innately sumptuous and erotic, its best kept secrets and “precious cameos” flushed out via acts of unexpected observation—themselves acts of resistance, re-seeing, and reclamation. In the world of Betts’ poetry, the wind exists to be licked by the sort of snake that began its life as a bullet, and the erotic blooms into full flourishing only when it simultaneously decays. This book vibrates us toward such essential wakefulness. 

- Matthew Gavin Frank, author of Flight of the Diamond Smugglers