Winner of the 2021 Press 53 Award for Poetry
A Tom Lombardo Poetry Selection
Publication date: April 1
Praise for Smile, or Else
Clear and cutting as glass, Chanel Brenner’s poems will challenge everything you think you know about grief. Smile, or Else is her journey through the unimaginable labyrinth that is the death of a child. And yet, I would not categorize this book as “sad,” rather as what the Spanish call duende, those moments in art where spirit speaks through the poet, rising up from the depths of sorrow. “We Never Heal, Just Remember Less,” the poet titles one of her gorgeous, devastating poems. How Brenner negotiates the rough spots and savors the sweet makes for a haunting, brilliant book that I could not put down.
—Alexis Rhone Fancher, author of State of Grace: The Joshua Elegies, poetry editor, Cultural Weekly
Brenner’s poetry is an odyssey. Traversing largely uncharted lands of primal grief and pain, it brings the reader to an improbable destination: the small turning point where grief and loss become joy and transcendence.
—Susan Whitmore, Founder & CEO of griefHaven
Chanel Brenner’s poetry stirs, provokes, elevates with its precision and insight. These poems are expertly crafted and beat with a true poet’s heart.
—Emily Black Rapp, New York Times best-selling author of The Still Point of a Turning World and Sanctuary