From Publishers Weekly
The 35-poem sequence composing Cruz's chillingly powerful debut traces the coming-of-age of a girl whose family is haunted by the death of a brother, perhaps by his own hand. In language that is pleadingly clear but also, in the long wake of a shameful family secret, necessarily withholding ("Like a girl, he was always/ Trading what little he owned/ Of his life"), Cruz seeks terms with which to mourn and regain what she has lost. Two sections titled "In the Kingdom" recount a childhood as idyllic and magical ("Discover a hidden winter trapped in a snuffbox") as it is violent and dangerous ("Let's find something still alive/ Left to kill"). The remaining two sections, both called "Praying," drift into the murkier territory of the unconscious, where, shifting between family members' voices, Cruz's poems face the ghosts of the past: "I washed my silver handgun as I set/ The last dangerous dream afloat." If reconciliation comes, it does so only in the form of beauty and determination: "Set me in the field and let the stars/ have their way." Cruz is a new poet to watch. (Sept.)
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Cynthia Cruz’s passionate, intense poems inhabit a landscape of fates and fatal hungers, nightmares and dangerous desires, in which enchantment and terror are so intimate that they become one.”Reginald Shepherd
"...the poems in this first collection are almost all passionate and full of energy...Cruz says: 'I spent a lifetime inside the destruction./ And like anyone, I made a world someplace else.' These poems are that world: tough, sometimes hard to swallow, but certainly compelling."Library Journal
"To enjoy these poems...is to permit the elliptical mind of a poet deeply grieved and disquieted, who is sifting through detritus and artifacts presumably to find reconciliation, or a way to heal."Small Spiral Notebook
"This is not a book about peacocks in twilight nor should it be read in the parlor. These spare, intense poems are both terrifying and excruciatingly tender, often both at once. Rarely is mystery so lucid, rarely does poetry rush so directly to the marrow. Ruin is a brilliant debut."Thomas Lux