Lucky Fish

Download the  Reader’s Companion for Lucky Fish.

“A farmer is devoured by a flower in one of the many beguiling poems of Lucky Fish. This is the sensation I often had reading Aimee Nezhukumatathil’s wonderful new collection—that of being immersed in a limber intelligence. Rooted in the terrains of culture, place, and parenthood, and buoyed by inventive language that is joyous and sincere, Lucky Fish is a book of copious heart and imagination. How wonderful to watch a writer who was already among the best young poets get even better!”
—Terrance Hayes


“Aimee Nezhukumatathil’s latest collection of fanciful and carefully wrought poems are once again far-reaching in geographic scope and linguistic imagination. Here is a poet willing to praise the earth, the animals, the ‘mud and its confusion,’ as well as the human ‘sleep-sloppy mouths.’ These are sensual dreamscapes of allegory and fable, but with a righteous bite and the razor sting of perception,Lucky Fish is alive with the poet writing well and passionately in a world she cares deeply about.”
—Dorianne Laux


“In Lucky Fish, a reader will encounter new words used together in original ways, new perspectives wound around each other—once, twice, three times—in enlightening combinations, and new music, new sounds, new rhythms presented in a clear, searching, and engaging voice. Aimee Nezhukumatahil’s poems create a captivating world of culture, family, and the earth. Enter, explore, and enjoy.”
—Pattiann Rogers


“The sense of wonder in Aimee Nezhukumatathil’s poetry has the quality of a cool breeze on a hot day. These poems convey affection for and passionate involvement with the world. ‘I want to always know the brightness/of a gumball,’ she writes, and I believe her, believe she wants and is capable of such luster, such innocence.”
—Bob Hicok


REVIEWS for Lucky Fish:

“. . . Cultural strands are woven into the DNA of her strange, lush, but oh-so-American poems. In ‘The Ghost-Fish Postcards’ she writes: ‘First the perfume of cobra wraps around your wrist — then the bloom & bite: summer,’ and ‘There are stars that are cola-colored. Your word is the window. The window is the word. Each night the quail calls, Wet my lips, wet my lips.’ Aphorisms . . . from another dimension.”

The New York Times

“Nezhukumatathil’s third book is fascinated with the small mechanisms of being, whether natural, personal, or imagined. Everything from eating eels in the Ozark mountains to the history of red dye finds a rich life in her poems. At times her lush settings and small stories are reminiscent of fairy tales (“The frog who wanted to see the sea was mostly disappointed”), while at others Nezhukumatathil speaks with resonance and fierceness: “The center of my hands boiled/ with blossoms when we made a family. I would never flee that garden. I swear to/ you here and now: If I ever go missing, know that I am trying to come home.” Even as the poems jump from the Philippines to India to New York, they still take their time, stopping to notice that “there is no mystery on water/ greater than the absence of rust,” and to draw small but wonderful parallels: “I loved you dark & late. The crocus have found ways to push up & say this/ too.”

— Publisher’s Weekly

“In vivid imagery, warm yet penetrating, Aimee Nezhukumatathil’s Lucky Fish moves from India to the Philippines to New York state to capture a rich life, richly lived.”

Library Journal

“You could say that this charming and buoyant book is “about” a lot of things—finding a home, love—but really, these poems point toward the importance of attentiveness as a path to joy, however fragile. And while the poems are lucid enough that even the most inexperienced poetry reader would find pleasure in them, they are, like joy itself, anything but predictable or simple.”


“…Aimee Nezhukumatathil’s third book, recently released by Tupelo Press (which also published Miracle Fruit and At the Drive-In Volcano) affirms her reputation as one of the master miners of the curios fact in science, history, nature and culture. With unparalleled ease, she’s able to weave each intriguing detail into a nuanced, thought-provoking poem that also reads like a startling modern-day fable…”

–Rigoberto Gonzalez, The Poetry Foundation

“…Aimee Nezhukumatathil is a poet who delights readers with her keen view of the world, which is often influenced by her insatiable wonder and her travels; this year, she gives us the gift of a beautiful third book, Lucky Fish. The book is her invitation for readers to join her in a sensual experience of the world and all its beings, human and creaturely…”

California Poetics

Lucky Fish asserts the supremacy of the sensual over the cerebral, the imagination’s brightness as essential to the illumination of the real. We are most alive, these poems all but sing, when sensing and perceiving more than judging, and this almost radical poetic stance is the backbone of Nezhukumatathil’s new collection.”

New Pages

“But there is no dullness of sheer description. The language is enlivened by the receptivity of an eye’s first glimpse and the tendency of a mind to tend its knowledge of the world’s appearances. Lucky Fish is Nezhukumatathil’s best book…”

On the Sea Wall

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