About Things That Go

Framed by a retelling of the Biblical story of Lot's wife, who looked back on the destruction of her city and was transformed into a monument of its destruction, Laura Eve Engel's muscular poems enact a long, unblinking look at symbols of American progress—trains, buildings, the vast American west—to strain against the notion of looking as passive. These poems suggest a constant and powerful movement forward as an antidote to the current moment, and to the heart's timeless struggles with itself. This ambitious debut wrestles with the ethics of love and loss, and bears witness to our collective experience of limitless looking, reminding us that "the future is coming / and we're all in it."

Publishers Weekly calls it a “nimble, philosophical debut.”

In Jewish Currents, Jessica Kirzane writes: “Engel’s work, though it opens in the ancient desert outside of Sodom, is a reflection of America in our current political and social moment. The stark mundanity of taking out the trash, of working in an office building, gives way to open skies and vast deserts in a dizzying, seemingly effortless attempt to explain an American experience or way of being. For Engel, Americanness today is an experience of living in a divided nation, where the divisions aren’t so much political as they are ethical and existential.”

Available from Small Press Distribution, Amazon, and Octopus Books

Praise for Things That Go

Laura Eve Engel’s supple, alert, dazzling, unpredictable poems are vibrantly alive: they turn and bend in daring and fantastic ways to access new angles of vision. Things That Go bristles with a verve that works to unsettle “the signage in our minds,” expanding the seeable as these poems bring it unnervingly closer to the sayable. Engel knows “vigilance against the new appearance / of old growth / has never been enough / we must rewrite the ground.” This book is that rewriting.

— Mary Szybist, author of Incarnadine, winner of the 2013 National Book Award


These poems exist in an eternal present, where one is continually in a state of waking. The waking is, often—movingly, thrillingly—into love. “First, building the love, which takes time. / Then making good of it, which takes forever.” Wise and open, Things That Go is both knowing, and aware of the risks of knowing.

— Nick Flynn, author of I Will Destroy You and Another Bullshit Night in Suck City


As a touring musician who has spent the better part of the last decade driving circles around the American southwest, I sense a kindred spirit in Laura Eve Engel. Reading Things That Go feels like traversing the desert at high speeds—witnessing a landscape so arresting and singular that it begs you to project the film of your own memory onto it, the heat waves emanating from the highway suggesting a deep reservoir of meaning underneath.

— Jenn Wasner, Wye Oak, Flock of Dimes and Bon Iver


This long-anticipated first collection from Laura Eve Engel is a remarkable debut! At its spine, Things That Go traffics in the collision of the sacred and the irreverent and paints a landscape of noticing where even static objects perceive deeply. The poems in this book carry such deft attention to sound, image, and sense a reader might get lost in this book for hours. This is a collection to read, reread, and then read aloud to a friend.

— sam sax, James Laughlin award-winning author of Bury It and Madness