University of Southern Indiana

Julia Koets

Winner of the 2019 Michael Waters Poetry Prize

Pine maps a secret relationship between two women in the South, where certain kinds of desire—queer desire, in particular—have historically been hidden and feared. Creating new landscapes of identity by reimagining form, modifying villanelles, sonnets, elegies, thank-you notes, and dictionary entries, Pine’s imagistic and metaphorical associations between the body and the natural world form a queer ecology of longing and loss.


“The poems in Pine are poems I was afraid to write when I wrote my first collection. Growing up queer in the South, I was afraid to write about queer desire, and I didn’t feel like I could write these poems until I was in my late twenties and early thirties. I wrote this book because I was no longer afraid of going home.”

-Julia Koets


“In Pine, Julia Koets has created a new queer catalog, a field guide for those of us who couldn’t claim a vocabulary in the closets of our youth, much less rely on any kind of compass. In doing so, this moving collection redeploys, with remarkable candor, the language used against us—sometimes out of our own mouths—and brings memory close enough to reconsider with the intelligence and finesse time affords. Pine reminds me that a queer root is as much about desire as it is about survival, and Koets is a worthy guide in both pursuits.”

-Meg Day


“Julia Koets shows us in the sinews of her images how growing up in a small town in the South, while abiding by one’s queer heart, requires an imaginative and oft-unsung resourcefulness. These poems stunningly herald the girls ‘who lie down in fields, their bicycles / on their sides, too, like horses / asleep in the sun.’ In this formally inventive collection, you’ll also find an interdisciplinary study of Eros, a string of mostly well-behaved thank-you notes, and a whole antlery of villanelles. Pine is a necessary and erotic record of deviations and a fearless collection.”

-Jenny Johnson


“Julia Koets writes villanelles like nobody else. Here’s Heraclitus, Ann Cvetkovich, and Sally Ride. Here’s an invented form, in ‘Vernal Equinox,’ that’s something like a villanelle caught a ride with a sonnet. Here’s a queer Southern love story in the field and by the ocean. I love this book. It’s stunning.”

-Jillian Weise


Read sample poems...

Read Amie Whittemore's interview with Julia...

Visit Julia's web page...

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