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sub rosa: The Book of Metaphysics is a three-part interrogation of love, gender, ritual and the body. It heralds a new kind of poetic thinking, one that seeks to articulate and enact a mode of resistance to the obstinacy of present conditions, but which focuses on embodiment, tenderness and optimism. It wants to break present paths and contribute to a collective imagining of a different future; a record of and a practice towards healing.

The opening sequence charts the breakdown and aftermath of a romantic relationship. The second, ‘Becoming’, then traces several feminine archetypes – the mother, the girl, the wild woman, the mermaid, Venus – in a critique of gender identity, summoning a lineage of strongly developed feminine ego identities in order to transcend and dissolve the individual (gendered) subject. The third sequence, entitled ‘Ecstasy (Dispersal)’ is then a reconstruction: a somatic and poetic (re)connection with the elements via crystal work, dance, somatics and food. Altogether, this collection is the latest installments of Lisette’s engrossing attempt to develop a poetics which is more inclusive of the body, the feminine, and the performative.


Lisette’s poetry speaks of the earth, the body, enchantment, ritual, transformation, desire, violence, agency and joy. In its textual maelstrom gender falls apart, sexuality fragments, expands and deepens; the boundaries between the thinking and feeling parts of ourselves collapse. What Lisette leaves us with is a new ‘liquidity of existence,’ a new freedom to shatter and extend who we are and might be. sub rosa... is alchemy, and it is solidarity, and it is strange magic. We are lucky to be able to share in the power of this uniquely talented poet.”
– Rebecca Tamás, WITCH (Penned In The Margins, 2019)


This book announces itself at the start as incapable of being “too cool for memories”, and this is a precious gift. Instead of deflecting from them, Lisette takes the absent-presence of past bodies and passions seriously as a force that should shift how we inhabit space. Memory can be awakened by bodily postures: “Decorticated, time is deliquescent/ echolocation.” sub rosa... is emphatically non-modern in its at times beautifully archaic diction and prosody, but it brooks no nostalgia for a misogynistic lyric tradition. Lisette is equally at home in complex noun-phrases (“arcadic holographic bubble-stream song”) and in simpler forms (“the broken honest fact is/ i don’t know what a woman is”). The movement between these modes shares an open secret: that life is shaped in a history of heavenly bodies. Lisette fearlessly accepts that “weakness [is] a problem for art” while tracking this problem in a beautifully structured sequence that starts from rifts and finally moves into unabashed manifestations of hope.”

Samuel Solomon




Did you know you can buy any three Boiler House Poets for only £25?!

Alternatively, bargain hunters: buy any five new Boiler House Poets for only £35!




Francesca Lisette is a poet and artist working with embodiment and utterance, gender and fluidity, intimacy and performance.  Lisette’s first book Teens was published by Mountain in 2012, and their work has been performed and published widely across the UK, Europe and USA. Francesca also practices spiritual counselling through astrology, tarot and somatics as the Glitter Oracle. Twitter: @franca_liszt

sub rosa: The Book of Metaphysics

SKU: 978-1-911343-49-3
  • 978-1-911343-49-3

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