Sylvia Legris

The Hideous Hidden

Poetry by Sylvia Legris

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Poetry Pamphlets 1–4

Poetry by Eliot Weinberger Lydia Davis Susan Howe Sylvia Legris Bernadette Mayer

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Pneumatic Antiphonal

Poetry by Sylvia Legris

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In The Hideous Hidden, Legris performs a poetic autopsy that untethers the language of the body and its “hideous hidden” from the morgue, the medical lab, the anatomy book—spaces from which women for centuries were long excluded—and creates from the history and language of this body her own stranger thing.

—Adriana X. Jacobs

Anatomical and medical language, cold and clinical in other contexts, becomes sensuous musical terrain; the sonic atmosphere Legris creates is as thick and slippery as the innards she describes.

Publishers Weekly

Legris’s microscopic attention is compelling and seductive, and from that narrow view it unexpectedly expands to tackle past and present, scientific and literary, private and public, and the rich histories that go with these dichotomies. Pulsing with secretions and excretions, her poetry saturates our imagination and invigorates our curiosity.

—Eleanor Chandler, Prac Crit

In her hands, language refracts in ways which break open etymology. Legris’s poems build like chords from sub- to super-sonic and, even at their most rapid and heightened point, sustain the force of poetic enquiry. There is always, as she says, ‘something on your hook, you feel it.’

—Griffin Prize Citation

Her work crackles with exuberant wackiness.


Rapidly gets deep and electric as the corded nerves running through the spinal channel.

—Lightsey Darst, Bookslut

The Hideous Hidden peels back the skin and takes us on a tour of our ‘fleshes,’ our ‘complicated riddle of meats,’ the ‘Vast. Vas. Vascular. Bladder-drenched city of organs.’ It is a tour de force through the vocabulary of the body’s parts and functions in sickness and health, waking and sleeping. With more than a passing glance at the history of its description. Most of all, it is a book that makes anatomy sing.

—Rosmarie Waldrop
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