A National Poetry Series Winner, this collection follows an enigmatic assassin seeking refuge from her sordid past.
“Mysterious and enticing, Murder (a violet) is a brilliant narrative constructed out of ‘fragments’ that “describe by accretion.’ The author asks us to ‘Imagine an epic from which a minor character walks away. Epic-adjacent.’ There are ‘instructions for reading’ and ‘possible entrances,’ but this serial poem also provides room for the reader to enter and participate in the game played by its textual agents—the assassin, the abbess, the janissaries, the vines, the trees. Flashes of action, some of them quite violent and noir, alternate with evocative, lyrical passages reminiscent of Japanese landscape scrolls, and speeches concerning questions of guilt and redemption—all of this composed, with a light touch and an ear sensitive to the weights and balances of words, into a musical structure that rewards re-reading.” —Anselm Hollo, National Poetry Series judge
A National Poetry Series Winner
“Murder (a violet) is somehow new and archaic at once. Delicately colored and carefully worked, this narrative sequence could be the missing fragment of ‘Christabel’—an embroidered ribbon that threads from the gothic to sometime this morning.” —Susan Stewart
“More than a brilliant debut, Raymond McDaniel’s Murder (a violet) is an eerie, haunting redefinition of peace—what it means to feel peace within the self. Here language and storytelling transform into an intimate meditation on one’s ability to reenter a human environment rooted in remedy, seasonal change. The assassin’s worst is done; our protagonist is stained, and yet she would return to this earth, this soil, these rocks, this life. Truly, a solemn achievement.” —Claudia Rankine
“An assassin turned penitent, a submerged story obscured by conflicting lines of possibility, roads dissecting other roads. An intrigue related in grape-light and mud cloak. An account both marital and feral, true and not true, poised between judgement and sanction. Coded in hues. Murder (a violet) is a prismatic poem, composed of polished faces. Raymond McDaniel’s language trains every particle of your attention on the surface and what stirs beneath.” —C.D. Wright