Crush by Richard Siken


Announcing the 2004 winner of the Yale Younger Poets competition, North America’s oldest annual literary prize.

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Our Bookseller says:

I had my first encounter with Richard Siken years ago, scrolling past a Tumblr post about gay yearning. It was a single sentence from “You Are Jeff”:

You’re in a car with a beautiful boy,
and you’re trying not to tell him that you love him, and you’re trying to
choke down the feeling, and you’re trembling, but he reaches over and
he touches you, like a prayer for which no words exist, and you feel your
heart taking root in your body, like you’ve discovered something you
don’t even have a name for.

Since then I’ve seen Siken’s poetry in bite-sized pieces everywhere. It is uniquely sliceable, every line of each poem its own beast. This makes it perfect for using as epigraphs for fanfiction about your favorite ship (personally, Siken writes fic about BBC’s Sherlock). His accessible verse never fails to make me feel like a flustered high schooler again, and that’s perhaps the highest praise I can give a poet. By the way, has anyone else noticed that when they look at each other in the apartment, the black flowers of the wallpaper bloom against the cream?

– Terry

Richard Siken’s Crush, selected as the 2004 winner of the Yale Younger Poets prize, is a powerful collection of poems driven by obsession and love. Siken writes with ferocity, and his reader hurtles unstoppably with him. His poetry is confessional, gay, savage, and charged with violent eroticism. In the world of American poetry, Siken’s voice is striking.

In her introduction to the book, competition judge Louise Glück hails the “cumulative, driving, apocalyptic power, [and] purgatorial recklessness” of Siken’s poems. She notes, “Books of this kind dream big. . . . They restore to poetry that sense of crucial moment and crucial utterance which may indeed be the great genius of the form.”

Crush by Richard Siken