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‘Iguana Iguana’: Caylin Capra-Thomas’s recursive, prismatic selves

Caylin Capra Thomas, 'Iguana Iguana' (Deep Vellum Publishing, 2022).
Caylin Capra-Thomas, 'Iguana Iguana' (Deep Vellum Publishing, 2022).

This week on The Write Question, University of Montana alumna and poet Caylin Capra-Thomas chats with host Lauren Korn about her debut collection, Iguana Iguana. As another poet, Diane Seuss, writes of Caylin’s collection, “Iguana Iguana is composed of many slippery selves—the Florida self, Montana self, daughter, lover, kid, adult, the solitude junkie, the working class self, and the kitchen self [… ] All the selves are united in their lack of cloying hopefulness and easy outs, and their awareness of the mortal body, which is also the source of the book’s comedy.” Suess is right: This book is funny and recursive and, perhaps most of all, it’s comforting—it’s a book about finding and knowing home wherever (and whoever) you are.

Alive to the beauty and anxiety of new worlds and people, Iguana Iguana imagines a tough and tender soundtrack for tumbleweeds in search of roots. Recursive, deliberate, and as adaptive as their titular lizard, these poems invite us to listen so as to better hear “...the sweet shriek / of those far-off trains you suspect are coming / to claim you. To lay open the hills you haven’t seen.” Caylin Capra-Thomas writes towards understanding the strangers we meet and knowing the stranger within. In doing so, she maps a blueprint for “lay[ing] into the world / like it's good enough.”

About Caylin:

Caylin Capra-Thomas is the author of Iguana Iguana (Deep Vellum Publishing), as well as two chapbooks: Inside My Electric City, available from YesYes Books, and The Marilyn Letters, available through dancing girl press. Her poems have appeared in numerous journals, including New England Review, 32 Poems, Pleiades, The Journal, Copper Nickel, and elsewhereShe is the winner of Harpur Palate‘s Milton Kessler Memorial Prize, Raleigh Review’s 2019 Laux/Millar Prize, Fairy Tale Review‘s 2018 Poetry Award, The Baltimore Review‘s 2017 Summer Contest, and Yemassee’s 2016 Non-Fiction Prize. The recipient of fellowships and residencies from The Vermont Studio Center, the Sewanee Writers’ Conference, and The Studios of Key West, she served as the 2018-2020 poet-in-residence at Idyllwild Arts Academy and is now living in Columbia, Missouri, where she is a student in the University of Missouri’s PhD in English program, studying poetry and non-fiction.

Caylin Capra-Thomas recommends:

Borealis: An Essay by Aisha Sabatini Sloan (Coffee House Press)

The Essential Etheridge Knight by Etheridge Knight (University of Pittsburgh Press)

Four in Hand by Alicia Mountain (BOA Editions)

Lauren Korn recommends:

Iguana Iguana (Deep Vellum Publishing); Inside My Electric City (YesYes Books) by Caylin Capra-Thomas

Bad Summonby Philip Schaefer (University of Utah Press)

High Ground Coward (University of Iowa Press) and Four in Hand (BOA Editions) by Alicia Mountain

The poetry of Dorothea Lasky, Mary Ruefle, and Diane Seuss

Your Emergency Contact Has Experienced an Emergency by Chen Chen (BOA Editions)

Savage Pageant by Jessica Q. Stark (Birds LLC)

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Lauren R. Korn holds an M.A. in poetry from the University of New Brunswick, where she was the recipient of the Tom Riesterer Memorial Prize and the Angela Ludan Levine Memorial Book Prize. A former bookseller and the former Director of the Montana Book Festival, she is now an Arts and Culture Producer at Montana Public Radio and the host of it’s literature-based radio program and podcast, ‘The Write Question.’
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