Published May 12, 2021

As summer gets underway, Route 1 Reads can kickstart your summer reading! A road trip-inspired reading list from state Centers for the Book along Route 1, this year’s Route 1 Reads highlights poetry and the selected book for Virginia is White Blood: A Lyric of Virginia by Kiki Petrosino

In her fourth full-length book, White Blood: A Lyric of Virginia, Kiki Petrosino turns her gaze to Virginia, where she digs into her genealogical and intellectual roots, while contemplating the knotty legacies of slavery and discrimination in the Upper South. From a stunning double crown sonnet, to erasure poetry contained within DNA testing results, the poems in this collection are as wide-ranging in form as they are bountiful in wordplay and truth.

In her poem “The Shop at Monticello,” she writes: “I’m a black body in this Commonwealth, which turned black bodies / into money. Now, I have money to spend on little trinkets to remind me / of this fact. I’m a money machine & my body constitutes the common wealth.” Speaking to history, loss, and injustice with wisdom, innovation, and a scientific determination to find the poetic truth, White Blood plants Petrosino’s name ever more firmly in the contemporary canon.

Winner of the 2021 UNT Rilke Prize
The New York Times,
“Poems that Poets Turn to in a Time of Strife”
The New York Times Book Review, “New and Noteworthy”
Library Journal, “Black Voices Matter 2020”
Publishers Weekly,
“Spring 2020 Announcements, Top 10”
Publishers Weekly, “An Anti-Racist Poetry Reading List”
Rumpus, “What to Read When You Want to Celebrate Women’s History”
The Millions, “Must-Read Poetry: May 2020”
Library Journal, “Versifying / Collection Development: Poetry” 
Poets.org, “National Poetry Month Books for 2020”
Southern Review of Books, “The Best Southern Books of May 2020”

About Kiki Petrosino

Kiki Petrosino is the author of White Blood: a Lyric of Virginia (2020) and three other poetry books. She holds graduate degrees from the University of Chicago and the University of Iowa Writer’s Workshop. Her poems and essays have appeared in Prairie Schooner, Best American Poetry, The Nation, The New York Times, FENCE, Gulf Coast, jubilat, Tin House and on-line at Ploughshares. She teaches at the University of Virginia as a Professor of Poetry. Petrosino is the recipient of a Pushcart Prize, a Fellowship in Creative Writing from the National Endowment for the Arts, an Al Smith Fellowship Award from the Kentucky Arts Council, and the UNT Rilke Prize.

Watch Petrosino discuss White Blood: A Lyric of Virginia in the 2021 Virginia Festival of the Book with Erika Meitner and Brian Teare:

Broadside of “Essay in Architecture” by Kiki Petrosino

As part of the Voice-Overs initiative led by Book Arts at the Virginia Center for the Book, an original broadside of the poem “Essay in Architecture” by Kiki Petrosino seeks to respond to markers of historical injustice in our cultural landscape as an overlay to this cultural moment and an opportunity for genuine seeing and listening to the ways our fellow Virginians are perceiving public spaces and public expression. 

You can explore the full digital exhibit and we anticipate the physical print works will be displayed and exhibited in venues throughout the Commonwealth in the coming year. We hope for the time being, viewers and listeners can enter this digital exhibit in the hope of a return to our living together in a revived public landscape, imbued with empathy and truth-telling.

The “Essay in Architecture” broadside, featuring original wood engraving by Laura Pharis, is also available to purchase. CLICK HERE to learn more.

“Essay in Architecture” by Kiki Petrosino—Wood Engraving by Laura Pharis Essay in Architecture The human face, its pine doors painted like mahogany. Human face with horses under each veranda. Perfect parquet tetragons of the human face. Human face still legible in Old French. Sealed closet of the human face lit by oculus. Design face, tinker face, factory face. Twine & bare wood comprising a pulley system for the human face. Woodworked face with sunbeams settling in. Revolving buffet supporting the human face. Entire pewter plate collection in the face. Human face as soup tureen, as paint chip, as spit jack. Smoke rings textured like the human face. Human face, cured. Human face, pickled. Human face brushed with olive oil, anchovies & Parmesan. Green floor of the Dome Room just above the human face. Floating view of the face, its quarter farms. Rough cabins dotting a sloped face, partly visible. Human face built to resemble a Great Clock. Great pendulum drawing faces in the air. Colophon: “Essay in Architecture” by Kiki Petrosino Letterpress printed with permission Sarabande Books, Inc from the 2020 poetry collection White Blood. This broadside was supported by UVA Arts and the Office of the Provost & the Vice Provost for the Arts. Wood engraving by Laura Pharis. Printed at Virginia Center for the Book, a program of Virginia Humanities, in Charlottesville, 2020.
“Essay in Architecture” by Kiki Petrosino — Wood Engraving by Laura Pharis

About Route 1 Reads

Connecting the 2,369 miles of U.S. Route 1 from Ft. Kent, Maine, to Key West, Florida, the Route 1 Reads initiative is a partnership between 16 affiliate Centers for the Book to promote books that illuminate important aspects of their states or commonwealths for readers traveling this meandering highway. The initiative was launched at the 2015 National Book Festival in Washington, D.C. Learn more at Route1Reads.org.

Previous Virginia Route 1 Reads selections:

2020, Historical Fiction, The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates
2019, Food or Drink, Red Truck Bakery by Brian Noyes
2018, Romance, Love On My Mind by Tracey Livesay
2017, Memoir, Sing for Your Life: A Story of Race, Music, and Family by Daniel Bergner
2016, Mystery, The Merlot Murders by Ellen Crosby
2015, Travel, Backroads & Byways of Virginia by Bill Lohmann

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