Alexandra Barylski was born to beauty and the love of nature, inheriting from her parents—a gardener and artist—an abiding attention to detail, craftsmanship, and the life of the word. Her work tends and nourishes the creative life of the world through poetry, art, and writing. The Managing Editor of the Marginalia Review of Books, an award-winning poet, and an experienced educator, she also works as a consultant specializing in copywriting, and branding.
A current Yale graduate student studying poetry and religion, she is the Editor of LETTERS Journal (Yale, ISM). She was a 2018 Peter Taylor Fellow for the Kenyon Review. Her chapbook, Imprecise Perishing, was published as part of Finishing Line Press’ New Women’s Voices Series. She won the Morton Marcus Poetry Prize and was a finalist for several major poetry awards including Phoebe Journal Greg Grummer Poetry Prize (judge Jericho Brown) and The New South Poetry Prize (judge Mark Doty). She has over a decade of experience in editing and education, ranging from prep schools to prison schools and writing labs. Her work as an author and interviewer has been featured at the Poetry Foundation.
Imprecise Perishing (Finishing Line Press)
In Imprecise Perishing, Alexandra Barylski explores the renegotiations of identity, relationships, and faith that arise when the body is in a state of dis-ease. Moving in and out of various formal arrangements that mirror the shape-shifting illness requires of the ill, she turns the situation of chronic illness over in her hands, letting the light catch it from various angles. With tumbling sounds, and startling language and imagery, these poems lead us into, and guide us through, what eventually we all must face: the vulnerability and mystery of “our unsolvable bodies.”
–Molly Spencer, author of If the House, winner of the Brittingham Prize judged by Carl Phillips and poetry editor at The Rumpus
The poems collected here reveal the paradox of illness, which strikes its victim as so unnatural, so transgressive, so...rude. And yet sickness is nothing more shocking than the attachment and growth of the wrong things in the wrong places. It is, ultimately, the most natural thing in the world. It’s the ivy overgrowing the wall, and weeds grown wild over the graves of those we love. But in this context, the stubborn, repeated rituals of love shine, for the reader, with new meaning. Faith, in these poems, is a father tending the roses that grow among the dead, and a wife toweling the dishes dry.
–Jessica Mesman Griffith, Image Blog Editor & author of Love and Salt: A Spiritual Friendship in Letters
Peter Taylor Fellow: Kenyon Review Spiritual Writing Workshop with Afaa Weaver, July 7-14 2018
Awards and Honors
Finalist for the 2017 New South Poetry Prize, judge Mark Doty
Selected poet for Tupelo Press’ 30/30 Project during 2017 National Poetry Month
Finalist for the 2017 Fairy Tale Review Poetry Prize
Finalist for the 2017 Yemassee Journal Poetry Prize, judge Jericho Brown
“Via Negativa” Phoebe 45.2 : Finalist for the 2016 Greg Grummer Poetry Prize, judge Jericho Brown
“Of Women and Water” & “Years, I Waited” Ithaca Lit: Honorable Mention Difficult Fruit Poetry Prize
"A Letter" Phren-Z: Winner of Morton Marcus Poetry Prize, ($1000) UC Santa Cruz reading with Al Young
"After Years Without Speaking" Reflections
"On Asking a Seven Year Old, 'Do you dare eat a peach?" The Windhover
"To a Twenty-Six Year Old Friend on His Illness" he Chariton Review
"The Center Can Hold" The Chariton Review
"Mystery & Magic of St. Peter" Ponder Review
“A Woman Desires an Origamist” Ninth Letter
“A Woman Desires an Out of Practice Cellist” Ninth Letter
“Conversations and Unbelief” & “Ode to Broken Men” Minerva Rising
“Milk and Moon” Porter Gulch Review
"Cycling Through South Jersey" The Mackinac
“To Be Saved” Enclave
“How to Sort Tomatoes” Ruminate 35
"From Blossom to Blossom" University of Arizona Poetry Center, 1508
"Poetry, Bodies, & Stillness: Alexandra Barylski Interviews Ocean Vuong" Marginalia Review of Books
"The Dove that Returns" University of Arizona Poetry Center, 1508
"Poetry Is A Body In Pain" University of Arizona Poetry Center, 1508
"Poems Are Places of Worship" University of Arizona Poetry Center, 1508
"Poetry is Incarnational” University of Arizona Poetry Center, 1508
"Fearfully and Wonderfully Made" Marginalia Review of Books
"People of the Tomb” Ruminate Blog
"A Holy Distraction” Sick Pilgrim
“Do Not Abandon” Between the Lines
An Inclusive Approach
Writing is more than grammatically correct sentences; it is a form of listening and speaking that invites us into a deeper dialogue with ourselves and the world.
Listening to texts means understanding and appreciating how authors form and shape their content; it means understanding what a rhetorical situation requires. Once you understand how to hear texts, you can engage with the ideas. Writing is a form of speaking, and those who thoughtfully and gracefully enter conversations consistently impress others in any rhetorical context.
Participating in any given discourse - academic papers, cover letters, love letters - is an act of reciprocity. An effective communicator listens and receives what is offered before speaking and sharing their own insights. People often conceive of writing as originating from an unknown source only "real writers" are able to hear. This is not true; everyone can learn to write effectively when well taught.
Writing is a process, and stress over the final product is not conducive to growth, self-expression, or successful communication.
Writing labs give students an edge over individualized tutoring because they provide students with opportunities to develop the skills necessary to compete in college and beyond. These skills include verbal expression of ideas, collaborative brain-storming, peer-review, and self-reflection. My emphasis on writing as a process of revision, feedback, and collaboration enables me to teach rhetorical skills that are transferable to other classes and professional careers.
A good editor helps an author revise their work in terms of strong structure and ideas, not just the cosmetics of grammar. A writing lab mimics the editorial process of journals and enables students to see the variety of paths and opportunities for individual thinking even if the assignment only offers one prompt. A writing lab provides an environment where students distinguish their own voices while negotiating the crucial skill of teamwork and emphasizes remaining competitive and unique without compromising collaboration and community.
Poetry Workshop Host, “Birds of My Neighborhood.” Audubon Bird Watching retreat at Trinity Wall St. Retreat Center, Cornwall, CA
Poetry Workshop Host, “Ecstatic Poets: God and the Human Body.” Festival of Faith and Writing, Calvin College
Poetry & Yoga Workshop, “Thanksgiving.” Yoga Works, Palo Alto with yoga instructor Kirtan Smith
Open Sky: Teen Writing Workshop in Poetry & Creative Non-Fiction,
Riconada Library Palo Alto, CA
Girls Yoga & Poetry Club, Palo Alto, CA
Literature and Writing 6-8 teacher at St. Elizabeth Seton School, Palo Alto, CA
Writing Instructor at Trident Technical College, Charleston, SC
Writing Consultant at The Citadel Military College of SC, Charleston, SC
Writers in the Classroom, Charleston Charter, SC/ Palo Alto, CA
English 6 Teacher at Swanson Middle School, Arlington, VA