Industry of Brief Distraction

As Wordsworth’s “The World Is Too Much With Us” is to nineteenth-century England, so Laurie Saurborn Young’s Industry of Brief Distraction to twenty-first century America: a lamentation over the ways—and over the fact that—“we lay waste our powers.” This is America, how we take and what we have, seen with more precision and particularity than is comfortable, from “the closed-captioned words You little / Bitch on the gym TV” to impossible-to-shake plastic horses. “Setting a willow afire I recall who // we are,” the speaker declares in one of Saurborn Young’s poems, and these pages are the leaves of that burning willow.

—H. L. Hix, author of First Fire, Then Birds

Madly inventive and wildly original, Industry of Brief Distraction swerves from the dumpster of America in the “Patriot” poems to the highjinks of plastic horses. If Laurie Saurborn Young’s diction doesn’t seduce you, industry will surrender its bricks. The poems move at a pace that is puzzling—at once gorgeously slow and blazingly fast. Who knew poetry could be clouds and dreams and still throw you onto the sidewalk? Read this book and be wowed.

—Barbara Ras, author of The Last Skin

Clear-sighted and with an easy access to the wild, weird American idiom, the poems in Laurie Saurborn Young’s Industry of Brief Distraction reveal, often all at once, the many different flavors and implications of our language. Sometimes brutal, always stunning, often very funny, this collection is made of newness and variety. Yes, there is gravity to Saurborn Young’s subjects—America, sex, death, violence, sexual violence, the degradation of the natural world—yet again and again her poems take flight. There is a pure joy in watching them soar.

—Carrie Fountain, author of Instant Winner


The poems in this dark and hopeful book evoke a ghostly quality, as if reaching for the ethereal might make the tangible more vital, as if we must always bring along our ghosts. Strange elements float in this suspension: cake and pliers, dragonflies and faucets, creation and keys. The hands-on material of these poems rushes forward all at once, lifted and hurled by the sense that the cosmos is a great metaphysical flood. These are strange compositions, indeed, but they recognize with great force that the world itself is strangely composed.

– Maurice Manning, author of The Gone and the Going Away


There are many poets who go by the name Laurie Saurborn Young in CARNAVORIA. Some tender, some teasing, some sassy, some will break your heart. All of them impossible to say enough about. Read these poems. Let them offer their means of transport. Patient, quick, gentle, ornery, calm, tough, surprising, loving, fearless and fierce, generous, frank, clear and true. Here is the best inch in view.

– Dara Wier, author of You Good Thing



The poems are bold, but they are not cocky or smug. They are not shouting at us. The inverted syntax and enjambments allow us to hear the internal voice of an American woman who feels genuine fear for her safety and her rights … By the end, the speaker has not just performed a civic, patriotic duty: she has taken care of herself, wearied and resilient. Patriot is a song America needs to hear.

– Justin Bigos