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Principles of Economics by Kristen Case

Winner of the 2017 Gatewood Prize, selected by Heather Christle.

Winner of a 2020 Maine Literary Award


"Principles of Economics marks the movement of a body in consciousness, in love, in illness, and in grief. It explores how, in measured language, one might attempt to measure time and all its strange work. Arranged in glinting layers of associative and disjunctive lines, these poems are a quiet thrill. Reading them, I feel a simultaneous calmness and excitement. I trust that this poet's bright mind knows just where to lead me, am happily surprised at each new place it goes." —Heather Christle


"Reading Kristen Case’s poems reminds me that lyric poets are our best philosophers of grief, and that their investigations are the best literary representations we have of not only the sound but also the silence of desolation. Two deaths preside over Principles of Economics: the death of the poet’s father and the death of a beloved. Turning to literary heavyweights of the past (Homer, Shakespeare, and Milton) to find language to endure the heavy weight of grieving in the present, these poems chart the mind of a reader reckoning with the illegibility of loss. Engaging with and often refusing traditional forms of elegy, this book revolutionizes poetry’s centuries-old commitment to witness, memorialize, and wonder at the way death works on the living. Principles of Economics is exquisitely written, exhilarating, and true." —Cecily Parks

"In Principles of Economics, Kristen Case treats the poem as a holy burning and re-making of the self in the tidal pull of grief. The poem becomes letter, spell, benediction, and elegy for her lost love and her father, economist Karl E. Case. In these communications with the dead and with her past self, she finds company with Homer, Shakespeare, Milton, and Thoreau. "What do I want from this inscription? / Achilles, what do we want?/ A shroud / A mouthful of ash / A materializing; as in matter, as in ghost / A black cloud / A finitude or an infinitude / A transitional object / A soft music / A rift in time through which." this is some of the finest writing on grief I have read in ages."  —Karen Weiser

Boston Globe review of Principles of Economics

Michigan Quarterly Review of Principles of Economics


Kristen Case's chapbook, Temple, was published by MIEL in 2014, and her full-length collection, Little Arias (New Issues, 2015) won the Maine Literary Award for Poetry. She is co-editor of the essay collection 21 | 19: Contemporary Poets and the North American Nineteenth Century, forthcoming from Milkweed Editions. She teaches English at the University of Maine at Farmington.

Principles of Economics by Kristen Case

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