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Exceeds Us
Exceeds Us

Exceeds Us



88 Pages, 6.25 x 7.5

Formats: Trade Paper, EPUB

Trade Paper, $18.00 (US $18.00) (CA $24.00)

Publication Date: March 2023

ISBN 9781947817548

Rights: US & CA

Saturnalia Books (Mar 2023)


eBook Editions Available

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Price: $18.00


Taking its name from a line in Rilke’s second Duino Elegy, “For our own heart always exceeds us,” at its core this is a book about new love and underlying illness. A lyric pursuit of our existence among the natural world, these poems keep in mind that existence is transient. They straddle reality lines, often stepping over into dream spaces or pushing against a linear world. But they are solidly of this world, its ground and various bodies of water, where a boy can become a field and a girl can drown in the rivers of her own body. At once intimate—“I would know you in someone else’s life, someone else’s storm cellar”—and expansive— “We rape the landscape/ we can see, start with what covers the light” —Osowski is a poet of language, of notice, and of inquiry. Rilke writes, “Wasn't love and departure placed so gently on shoulders that it seemed to be made of a different substance than in our world?” Exceeds Us is interested in that substance and the notion that our lives are not singular. These poems exceed the pair at their center, they exceed the one life we’re granted, and they are not bound to the laws of our earth. “Prove how weather is not a god and I'll believe in you."


"As surrealism in its origins meant not unreal but more than real, a reality augmented by the world of chance and dream, Leah Poole Osowski summons, in Exceeds Us, not a supernatural but a supernatural earth: 'I am trying to invoke a life with an animal instinct.' In poem after startling poem, in language both beautiful and strange, the poet enacts an uncanny metamorphosis as she crosses the boundaries between herself and that of others—a lover, cicadas, reptiles, the sea. About this precarious earth of marvels and deep loss, of illness and intimacy, she says, 'I want to place all my altar stones on your cloudshadow.' I love this book, its sense of fascination and unease." —Melissa Kwasny, Author of Where Outside the Body is the Soul Today and The Nine Senses

"In a book haunted and energized by a lover's illness and, therefore, thoughts of death, Leah Poole Osowski’s Exceeds Us concerns itself with what could be said, what we might be missing, and how limited we are in our creaturely bodies built first for survival but now repurposed for understanding and art and spirit. In just her second book, she has found her method and her madness both, and has fashioned a book that looks straight at a vanishing world, enumerating its wonders in language that is quietly stunning." —Jon Davis, author of Above the Bejeweled City and Choose Your Own America

"Everything alive feels extra so in Leah Poole Osowski’s riveting second collection, Exceeds Us. Every apricot or redbud, crocus or jay, me or you pulses and shape-shifts beyond ordinary boundaries. This is the land of otherwise. We know it from dreams, close to us as our own bones, and that deeply hidden. Image to image, line to line, these poems emerge like origami—each fold a new revelation—exactly this, then, surprisingly, exactly that, until, at last, we see clearly: this is a love story, 'a winged thing,' just what was needed. I found myself grateful to believe in these poems." —Mary Ann Samyn, Author of Air, Light, Dust, Shadow, Distance and My Life in Heaven

Author Biography

Leah Poole Osowski received Saturnalia’s Alma Book Award and is the author of hover over her (Kent State University Press, 2016), which won the Wick Poetry Prize. Her work has appeared in The Southern Review, The Georgia Review, Ninth Letter, ZYZZYVA, and elsewhere. She earned an MFA from the University of North Carolina Wilmington and was the emerging writer in residence at Penn State Altoona. She is the poetry editor of Raleigh Review and lives in Pennsylvania with her husband, the writer John McShea.