Guide to the Exhibit
by Lisa Allen Ortiz
Winner of the 2016 Perugia Press Prize
Inspired by displays at a small natural history museum, the poems in Lisa Allen Ortiz’s collection, Guide to the Exhibit, are about what we set aside to examine and remember. The quirky, scientific lens—grimy, focused, funny, always illuminating—animates the odd and overlooked. With humility and curiosity, Ortiz is moved to learn how to see more clearly both as lover and as griever. Speaking the names of things—animals, skeletons, teeth, feathers—is a way of connecting with the complications of being alive. Chase Twichell says, “These marvelous poems (for they are full of marvels) examine and catalog the flora and fauna of our planet, its rocks and skies and soil and waters, both from outside, looking at them, but also from inside, looking as them.” How does the stillness of an exhibit encourage us toward love and joy? Does studying details increase the pleasure of felt experience? Guide to the Exhibit faces these questions with courage, modesty, and power.