Find the Girl

Poetry by Lightsey Darst

April 1, 2010 • 6 x 9 • 88 pages • 978-1-56689-244-5

A poetic exposé of girlhood, obsession, and the CSI industry.

From Snow White to the Yde Girl and Helen of Troy to JonBenét, this lurid and lyrical debut explores the transition from girlhood to womanhood and America’s almost pornographic fascination with missing and exploited children. Topical and timely, Darst’s poems draw from both the oldest tales and the current vein of child / young woman endangerment horror—recalling and responding to true crime exposés, pulp detective fiction, classic fables, modern novels like The Lovely Bones, and TV shows like Law & Order.

About the Author

Originally from Tallahassee, Florida, Lightsey Darst is a writing instructor, dance critic, and dancer who lives in Minneapolis where she curates a writers’ salon. The recipient of a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, her poems have appeared in the Antioch Review, Diagram, Gulf Coast, Monkey Bicycle, New Letters, and elsewhere. Find the Girl is her first collection.


“A dark but beautiful first book. . . . This is a vital poetry of the Deep South ripe with bones, blood and bogs, Snow Whites, Gretels and debutantes all stirred into a harrowing stew of lust, dusk and summer.” New York Times

“A unique and dynamic collection of poetry.” Feminist Review

“[Darst] dives in, turning gruesome forensics into the filigree of poetry, and examining the strange pall that dead-girl culture . . . throws over the adolescence of real girls.” MinnPost

“Fairy-tale prose blends vivid botanical images with not-so-happy endings. . . . Find the Girl is empowering in a brutal way. Read it and you will find the pages turning, as if on their own volition.” Minnesota Reads

“A rich and honest chronicle of the transition from girlhood to womanhood. You won’t find poems about pearls, ribbons and curls here.” Southern Minnesota Venus

“[Find the Girl] is a forceful, unforgettable, debut by a writer who has already learned her craft. The writing is assured, urgent and arresting.” —Galatea Resurrects

“[Find the Girl] brings contemporary sensationalism into focus, raising (but not answering) many of the moral questions most poets don’t ask.” Molossus

“This first book by Lightsey Darst moves the reader to consider unspeakable crimes against girls—not from the perpetrator’s point of view so often portrayed in salacious TV dramas—but from a deeply personal stance that becomes an elegy for girlhood. . . . Most remarkably, these poems give us a chance to see the fine line between the girls we have been ourselves and the lost girls who never became women. . . . It is in her sensual language that these poems gain our hard-won interest.”Cerise Press

“Bluegrass and teen lust, the sequels to horror films and the modernist fragment, perennial myth and murder mystery, all erupt into Lightsey Darst’s serious poems. . . . Playing hooky, playing dead, playing ‘an instrument built from her body,’ Darst is playing with fire: her verse lights up the night sky.” —Stephen Burt

Find the Girl is a book of poems as urgent as its title. . . . Here we have an important new poetic voice, one that fully earns Louis Zukofsky’s observation that, in poetry, ‘Each word itself is an arrangement / The story must exist in each word or it cannot go on.’ Lightsey Darst has internalized this, practiced it, perfected it, and brought it to us in this incredible collection. She has done something truly new.” —Laura Kasischke

“We should not lie about life. Find the Girl, in its violent intricacies unearthed by the hand of a poet dutiful to the women and girls long lost from poetry, knows this. . . . Find the Girl is an important, ravaging debut.” —Katie Ford