In Broken Latin


Poems by Annette Spaulding-Convy
978-1-55728-987-2 (paper)
November 2012


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Finalist: 2012 Miller Williams Poetry Prize
In Broken Latin explores in a series of deft, witty, sexy, and soulful poems the misunderstood, idealized, and marginalized life of a modern Roman Catholic nun. In these poems, set in the patriarchal institution of the convent, Annette Spaulding-Convy comments on the American woman’s struggle for spiritual identity in contemporary culture through the voice of an ex-nun now mother/wife creating a life for herself in the world, while searching for an ethical, spiritual meaning not dependent upon traditional religious dogma.

Annette Spaulding-Convy is the cofounder and coeditor of Two Sylvias Press and coeditor of the literary journal Crab Creek Review. She is the author of In the Convent We Become Clouds, and her poems have appeared in Prairie Schooner, North American Review, and Crab Orchard Review, among others. She lives in a small community on Puget Sound.

“Annette Spaulding-Convy’s In Broken Latin is a lurid, sumptuous, shocking collection of poems, as intimate as any memoir. A riveting portrait of the passions of the body as well as the soul, In Broken Latin is ecstatic and wise, brutal and tender. What a breathtaking debut!”
—Julianna Baggott, author of Compulsions of Silk Worms and Bees and Lizzie Borden in Love
In Broken Latin disorders the ritualized life of a passionate and learned Roman Catholic nun, soon to leave her order for the joys and losses of a secular life, a woman’s life with childbirth, depression, and rituals at the heart. Annette Spaulding-Convy was a nun and she is a poet. After she leaves the convent, she imagines finding her habit in the closet: “Maybe on the back, I’ll sketch a rib / returning to man because it’s tired / of the story . . .” Wit, learning, candor, and formal discipline raise the poems, which soar like spirit for the reader’s pleasure.”
—Hilda Raz, author of What Happens and Trans
“Annette Spaulding-Convy’s In Broken Latin takes everything you ever assumed about life in the convent and turns it on its head. Smart, sensuous, engaging—these poems balance fierceness with gentleness, humor with darkness, and they are innovative while still being understandable. Spaulding-Convy offers an intelligence and magnetism in her poems that is rarely seen in a first collection.”
—Kelli Russell Agodon, author of Letters from the Emily Dickinson Room
“Annette Spaulding-Convy’s In Broken Latin is a collection that leads us with intelligence, wit, and compassion through a woman’s life in a nunnery and her slow disenchantment with the church. There’s a spark of hidden sensuality and humor hidden beneath the habit, as displayed in one of my favorite poems of the collection, ‘There Were No Rules about Underwear,’ where a fireman breaks into a nun’s room as she sleeps nude, saying he ‘needs to feel your walls to see if they’re hot.’ The poems here contemplate the gruesome origins of desserts created for saints, the daily rituals of women in the convent, performing a fascinating balancing act of playful irreverence and deep thoughtfulness about spiritual exploration.”
—Jeannine Hall Gailey, author of Becoming the Villainess and She Returns to the Floating World