At the Drive-in Volcano

At the Drive-in Volcano was named the winner of the Balcones Prize, which honors an outstanding book of poetry published during the year. The Balcones Poetry Prize judges praised her “tight, economical poems that contain just the right amount of darkness and elegance,” poems that are “extravagant and accessible,” “fresh and funny, congenial and sharp,” and said that she has “heeded Pound’s call to make it new.”

Read sample poems from the book here.

Praise for At the Drive-in Volcano:

“Aimee Nezhukumatathil’s poems are as ripe, funny and fresh as a precious friendship. They’re the fullness of days, deliciously woven of heart and verve, rich with sources and elements — animals, insects, sugar, cardamom, legends, countries, relatives, soaps, fruits — taste and touch. I love the nubby layerings of lines, luscious textures and constructions. Aimee writes with a deep resonance of spirit and sight. She’s scared of nothing. She knows that many worlds may live in one house. Poems like these revive our souls. Read them, then say her glorious name over and over again like a charm of syllables — it’s a poem of its own.”

– Naomi Shihab Nye

“Of the generation of American poets to launch their careers over the past decade, Nezhukumatathil may be the most successful at balancing a well-crafted formal restraint with an unabashed exoticism of the senses. No less an epicure than a natural historian, a pop cultural maven than a global village storyteller, her work excels at finding the possibilities in cultural difference and inventing a new lexicon for corporeal desires.”

–The Buffalo News

“These are poems of great accomplishment that feature a tremendous diversity of subject matter and tone. The collection wanders between love poems and childhood-memory poems and travelogues, all bound together by Nezhukumatathil’s distinctive voice and considerable skill.”

Third Coast

“Nezhukumatathil’s poetry is a delicate whisper…[and] many of the images in her pieces are described with scientific precision.”

India Currents

“One of Nezhukumatathil’s most noteworthy gifts is her ability to calibrate diction and narrative so poems are at once crafted and ragged, straight-forward and mysterious.”

–West Branch

“Her attention to the aural element provides a solid sonic scaffolding for her work…Nezhukumatathil is a talented young poet, and At The Drive-In Volcano is a fine collection of her work that’s worth the investment for anyone who enjoys skillful-crafted poetry.”

–The Avatar Review

“The curious finds in nature and human folly, which might otherwise get slumped into trivia or become the odd ingredient in a conversation starter, are skillfully and delicately handled…Nezhukumatathil’s poetic lens is indeed smudged with an anxiety that gives her second book a distinctively sinister edge…The result is daring and dazzling.”

LUNA: A Journal of Poetry and Translation


“The poems in At the Drive-In Volcano, Nezhukumatatathil’s sharp and witty second collection, showcase not only the poet’s dexterity with language, but also her ability to tie natural oddities to our human experience, to make us see connections in the unlikely of places.”

Mid-American Review

“Aimee Nezhukumatathil’s second collection can be as vivid as a lava flow and as cool and keen-edged as obsidian. Perhaps most vivid is the landscape of love, with its smooth and rocky terrain: “I will curl around you like / a pistol shrimp and you will wonder / where all this sand is coming from.” Direct in tone and sentiment, her work is laced with humor and pragmatically hopeful.”

–Open Books Emporium, Seattle, WA