Scrape the Velvet from Your Antlers


By Kelly McQuain

Introduction by Jeff Mann

978-1-68003-332-8 Paperback
6 x 9 x 0 in
100 pp.
Pub Date: 02/15/2023


  • Paperback $21.95
Best Books of Summer 2023, Philadelphia Magazine
The TRP Southern Poetry Breakthrough Series: West Virginia

In questioning the boundaries between the world and oneself, Scrape the Velvet from Your Antlers unflinchingly explores the dark eddies of coming of age and coming out. Kelly McQuain’s poems are far roaming in setting and far ranging in style, depicting the richness of a rural West Virginia upbringing as well as contemporary adulthood in the big city and abroad. Glints of humor and glimpses of pathos abound in the imaginative leaps these poems take as they tackle such subjects as LGBTQ sexuality, homophobia, domestic abuse, and racism. Unafraid to push the limits of contemporary sonics, McQuain’s work is rich in music and varied in form, with new riffs on the sonnet, the villanelle, and the persona poem. Accessible and lyrical, this debut collection deftly explores the homes we come from and the homes we create—all the while shining with wonder and resolve. Several of the poems won contests including the Bloom chapbook prize, the Glitter Bomb Award, Best New Poets 2000.
From “No Trespassing”
It’s me who worries about her mini-strokes
and falls, the knot on her head from where she
stumbled picking blackberries on the bank.
She watches the bees come, stippling themselves
with pollen, flowers bending in the breeze.
This world is hers, for now—all she covets.
Tonight it is a black bear and three cubs up against
her window, spilling seeds from a bird feeder
hung against the house. My mother stands
in the dark by that window, her thin hand,
the chill of ghostly glass.

The TRP Southern Poetry Breakthrough Series

Published by Texas Review Press