Velvet Hounds explores eating disorders, inherited trauma, the recklessness of misguided youth, and the shadowy world of depression and dysmorphia.
Winner of the 2020 Akron Poetry Prize
Velvet Hounds is a completely combustible collection of poetry. In extravagant, shape-shifting imagery and mythic-meets-black-leather vernacular, Seu takes readers on a journey through reckless youth, first love, addiction, bliss, agony and mayhem. Velvet Hounds is a semi-autobiographical collection bearing reckless witness, with nothing held back, to the wreckage bulimia nervosa makes of a body and spirit as well as the pain and personal schisms from which such a disorder might stem.
In Velvet Hounds, Seu also delves into the difficulties of growing up the biracial, pansexual, wayfaring child of a deceased pastor and fundamentalist Christian writer mother. The book chronicles the effects of her mother’s and her own wavering mental health and through that lens, the incoherent and dangerous labyrinth two people’s psychosis can create when they collide. From impassioned, ecstatic, abstracted odes like G-Spot, “strongroom, throne room of baritone ache” & Clitoral “Sinewed capsule / of holy spirit. My body, / the electric chair / berserk.” To the clarity and searing vulnerability of narrative sequences like the long poem “Ox Hunger Essay” which chronicles different thresholds in the narrators struggle with death, betrayal, bulimia, and the isolation of identity “I developed a habit of wringing / my stomach out in my throat.” Never shying away from the erotic, visceral, nightmarish or any juiced-up phantasmagorical earthly heaven, Velvet Hounds is a thunderstorm you’ll lose yourself inside.