Now available: Maleficae
Incorporating language from trial records to papal bulls to incendiary theological documents, Maleficae explores the intersection of forces that led to the witch persecutions – forces alarmingly similar to those operating in American society today – in a book-length series of poems that seeks to re-create the sheer terror of the trials, while also focusing one so-called witch: her story, her wail from the center of the flames. In making the dead speak, Maleficae gives the victims of the trials a voice.
In this incantatory series of lyric poems Emma Bolden finds a new way to write about an old (though still current) subject. This book speaks in many tongues, many vivid, and living tongues.
Emma Bolden’s Maleficae is an ambitious and powerful accomplishment. Informed by historical records of European witchcraft trials, it is wholly contemporary in its layered complexity and poetic craft. Incantatory rhythms, shifting perspectives and voices, and vividly rendered dream/nightmare imagery make these poems hypnotic and haunting. The contrast between historical content and contemporary form—between fact and imagination—intensifies the dramatic impact and reminds us that the past is, in one form or another, always present.