My debut full length collection of poetry,
We Shed Our Skin Like Dynamite
released May 2020
with Guernica Editions.
You can purchase my book from the publisher (Guernica Editions), Indigo, Barnes and Noble, or your local bookseller!
"We Shed Our Skin Like Dynamite is an unpredictable and ethereal exploration of the ways we pacify our unhappiness, the masks we hide behind, and what waits to be confronted when we finally decide to give it all up.
Moving through addiction, relationships, the natural world, and our ultimate mortality, Clayton's words hang in the middle-space between overt meaning and open interpretation, allowing the reader to not just see but feel every moment of delicate, raw vulnerability throughout her work."
"The poet Conyer Clayton’s strength is her ability to bend images into standout lines like “If the river stood still it would / become a mountain” or “I own this body, / sometimes” while keeping her line-breaks short and poetic structures minimalist.
Conyer Clayton’s spare lyrics in We Shed Our Skin Like Dynamite (Guernica Editions) revel in the interiority of the poet’s imaginative life while occasionally shining a light on our exterior world using both physical and psychological imagery. I look forward to her “catching fire” across many more books to come."
-Chris Banks, author of Midlife Action Figure
"The poems in this stunning debut construct a world by colliding its sharpest angles. Instead of an orderly pastoral landscape, Clayton gives us “a pasture / with a rusted tractor.” Instead of happily-ever-after, we get “ruins of rock, the frantic mess / we made.” These poems manage to wrench beauty from loss, absence, departure—the various goodbyes that transition us along our individual paths. In this book, Clayton’s speaker emerges from the darkness of grief into “the space between / earth and sky,” a realm of generous possibility, where poetry begins."
-Kiki Petrosino, Author of Witch Wife and Hymn for the Black Terrific
"Conyer Clayton’s rich, unpredictable lines are imbued with the transformational traces and scars that humans, nature, and contraptions leave on one another. Vivid sounds and images stagger Plinko-like through these deeply personal poems that display both murmuration and volatility. This is a book that resonates."
-Stuart Ross, Author of Motel of the Opposable Thumbs and A Sparrow Came Down Resplendent
"We seem to be enamoured with short books bearing long titles, and Conyer Clayton’s We Shed Our Skin Like Dynamite is no exception...Clayton’s speaker intimately engages with many topics, from lovers to abortion, nature to death. There is a closeness that pervades through each poem, a love that need not be sexual (though it sometimes is) nor even always personal. It is captured in the couples who “exchange / loaded glances over freckled shoulders and distracted backs” (37), but equally in forests, rivers, and soil. The speaker links the corporeal and the ecological, the personal and the natural."
"Clayton is capable of memorable lines that condense the sense of the poem into a few words, such as ‘A lifetime spent in yearning’ (‘Unpopular knowledge’), ‘to be crushed and shredded/between foreign skinned fingers’ (‘Broken Leaf’), ‘We have our skin on rock’ (‘Trace’), ‘I sink into your absence’ (‘Goodwill Mug’), and ‘How efficiently we grieve’ (‘The Screen Comes Off Easily’). These are brilliant verses that fulfil the essence of her poetry, conveying completeness in her poetic language but leaving a finitude that is left intentionally open in the content and themes of the poems."
-Carla Scarano D'Antonio in The Temz Review
"...Clayton's natural world signals both an escape and an impossible. painful task: a place in which the un-naturalness of everything else can be seen and, perhaps, unpicked like a tapestry. Nature begins to return our narrator to herself—a transformation which proves pain, necessary, and dangerous. The magic to return Clayton's narrator to herself could be anywhere, and she searches for it desperately: in treks through the forest, in dreams, in drunken parking lots in the middle of the night, in her own skin. Nothing is the key, nothing provides freedom, and yet we can 'feel the rising edges, peeled / away by a pulsing tide, salt' (This is the Bandage). We can sense the rising waters, the healing wounds, and we can tell: change is coming."
-Dessa Bayrock in ARC Poetry Magazine Issue 92
Forthcoming chapbook, Sprawl: the time it took us to forget, Fall 2020 with Collusion Books, written collaboratively with Manahil Bandukwala
I released my first solo musical EP, Further Behind You, on May 1st, available on bandcamp now, and soon on all streaming services
Reviews of We Shed Our Skin Like Dynamite:
- Chris Banks at The Miramichi Reader
- Kim Fahner at periodicities
- Carla Scarano D'Antonio at The Temz Review
- Dessa Bayrock in ARC Poetry Magazine, Issue 92
I was recently interviewed by Kate Finegan in the Spring 2020 Issue of The Puritan
Transcript of conversation with Lee Parpart, and video reading of 2 poems in periodicities
Forthcoming work with Room Magazine, CAROUSEL, Minola Review, Mineral Lit Magazine, and The Temz Review