Where Are the Snows takes its title from the famous refrain of François Villon’s 15th Century poem “Ballad of the Ladies of Times Past.” Like that poem, the book functions, among other things, as an ubi sunt, Latin for “Where are they?” as in “Where are the ones who came before us?”—the beautiful, the strong, the virtuous, all of them? In keeping with that long tradition, these poems offer a way to think about life’s transience—its beauty, its absurdity, and of course its mortality. Allusive and associative, anti-capitalist and unapologetically political, aligned somewhere between comedy and anger, this poetry juxtaposes the triumphs and tragedies (mostly tragedies) of our current age with those of history, and—by wondering “Where are they?”—explores the questions of where we are now and where we might be going.
Winner of The 2021 X. J. Kennedy Poetry Prize, selected by Kazim Ali
About the Author
KATHLEEN ROONEY is a founding editor of Rose Metal Press, a nonprofit publisher of literary work in hybrid genres, as well as a founding member of Poems While You Wait, a collective of poets and their typewriters who compose poetry on demand. Her most recent books include the novels Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk and Cher Ami and Major Whittlesey, and her criticism appears in The New York Times, The Chicago Review of Books, The Brooklyn Rail, The Los Angeles Review of Books, and elsewhere. She lives in Chicago with her spouse, the writer Martin Seay, and teaches at DePaul.
“Where Are the Snows is somehow desperately tender and wickedly incisive at the same time. Kathleen Rooney manages a smart, fierce, and intelligent take on contemporary life that everyone should read. It is a generous book that invites a reader in, and generative in the way that good poetry always is. Read a couple of pages of this book and you need to put it down and go make something, whether a poem or a sculpture or a major life decision, as you prefer. Any of the three would be in the spirit of this wild and wonderful work.”—Kazim Ali, author of The Voice of Sheila Chandra
“In Kathleen Rooney’s Where Are the Snows, profound and hilarious stanzas underpin a philosophy for living in an era that feels post-claiming-to-be-post-anything. The book is both a modern pastoral with startled, awestruck observations about everything from the economy to Wednesdays and a deeply emotional elegy for a complicated, yet beloved, spirituality. Rooney’s adroit use of language reveals how nostalgia and history are their own kinds of mysticism and—my favorite—that time itself is just a metaphysical joke. I mean, c’mon, her dedication reads: To the future. Rooney is at her funniest in this book, and in all the best ways: subversive, nerdy, and tragic. You won’t believe how saintly I’ve become. She writes. Big halo energy. This is a great book.”—Sommer Browning, author of Good Actors
“Reading Kathleen Rooney’s Where Are the Snows is refreshing. Here is a book unafraid to face the various crises of the world and admit it might not work out. The magic of Rooney’s writing is its lightness: funny, playful, cynical, indulgently dark, and poignant, Where Are the Snows is always delightful. I promise you won’t be able to stop reading these poems.”—José Olivarez, Author of Citizen Illegal
“Kathleen Rooney’s Where Are the Snows is a book of investigative improvisation—interested in the loss and whereabouts of everyday goodness, the futility of contemporary politics and capitalism, the transience of joy and sorrow. Her supercharged lyrics pulse with interruption, iteration, and inference. They juxtapose absurd facts and self-deprecating queries with the timing of a standup comedian. Half heartbreaking, half hilarious, this book is 100% punk rock.”—Marcus Wicker, author of Silencer