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ISBN: 9780888017055
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The World is Mostly Sky

In this shining debut, identity and community converge in poems for a modern generation. Beginning with the open prairie skies of her youth, Sarah Ens maps an emergence into millennial womanhood, questioning feminine expectations and examining heartache and disembodiment during an age of personal and planetary upheaval. The World Is Mostly Sky looks backwards and inwards to find respite in stars, warm earth, and deep waters while rejoicing in the sacred bonds of sisterhood that offer the courage to meet our uncertain horizon.

Advanced Praise

In The World Is Mostly Sky, Sarah Ens bewitches us with broken robin eggs and belly button rings, silos and steeples, stones and stars. This stunning debut bursts with transfixing hosannas for an eerie coming of age—and with “purple-tongued” benedictions that sing the “in/breaking divine.” Ens’ poems have a contagious and fierce intensity, akin to an intimate conversation between the closest of friends. Her poems haunt. They ricochet. They pierce and shine.— Sandra Ridley, Silvija

Ens’ vibrating debut gnaws inside the dark vat of a prairie girl’s becoming. These poems are thorough, intimate, fiercely sensual processes, “tiny gnathic movements / digesting disaster.” In The World Is Mostly Sky, Ens takes the world by mouth, turning submerged matters into spit-back, unroofed, fully-lit desires. Throw away the old Hitchcock femme fatale script. Ens’ debut is “one true scream.” —Jennifer Still, Comma

These sharp, smart poems are embodied in the truest sense: of and faithful to the body. Whether she’s writing of girlhood or womanhood, of the prairies or the city, Ens’ vivid, forceful language fully engages and challenges her readers.— Rhea Tregebov, Rue des Rosiers

Book Club Questions
  • 1. The epigraph before the table of contents reads “a boat is not / the whole world / (the world / is mostly / sky).” Discuss the possible meaning(s) behind this statement.
  • 2. Of the three sections in the book, which resonated most with you? Why?
  • 3. In what ways did this collection challenge or confirm your understanding of “millennial culture”?
  • 4. Within the context of the book, what does it mean to be a woman in 2020?
  • 5. Which poems explore feelings of being dissociated or disconnected from the body and which poems take a more embodied stance? How (and where) is the body presented as a place of refuge, joy, and strength but also as a place of vulnerability and pain?
  • 6. How does this collection address the current environmental crisis? Find examples in the book. What is the speaker’s reaction towards this reality?
  • 7. What other forms of “loss” does the book explore, and how does the speaker handle them? Which one(s) resonated with you the most?
  • 8. The World Is Mostly Sky illustrates the empowerment that comes from being part of a strong community of women (i.e., sisters, parents, cousins, classmates, and friends). What relationships in your life give you this same sense of fulfillment and empowerment in the face of turmoil and crisis?
  • 9. The notion of “place” is very important in this collection; find examples that illustrate how “place” defines the speaker’s sense of self during her formative years. What are the places that defined you as a young person? Do these places still hold the same importance for you? How have they changed?
  • 10. What poem(s) stuck with you the most? Why?