Every hundred feet the world changes. 
— Roberto Bolaño (2666)

New Book:  Over the River and Through the Woodf

I am a poet and scholar currently living in Bay View, on the South Side of Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  Bay View is an historic neighborhood; it's near the Lake, there are rows of Craftsman bungalows, and we even had our very own labor massacre in 1886.

I have no single professional focus--and could be accused of having no focus at all---but my current work includes a new book of poems, The Sleeve Waves (Wisconsin,  2014) and an anthology of nineteenth-century children's poetry, Over the River and Through the Wood (Johns Hopkins, December 2013), co-edited with Karen Kilcup.  Scholarly essays in process include pieces on antebellum African-American children's literature, intergenerational women's poetry, and Sarah Piatt.  My past work includes various articles, two poetry collections, Bird Skin Coat (Wisconsin, 2009) and Distance Learning (New Issues, 1998), and a critical study, Schoolroom Poets: Childhood, Performance, and the Place of American Poetry (UPNE 2005).

During the spring semester of 2011, I was a Fulbright lecturer in China, at Xiamen University; our family blogged (sporadically) about it here.  

I'm married to anthropologist and online bookseller  Chris Roth, whose Springtime of Nations blog tracks breakaway nations large, small, and microscopic.

Other Sorbys of note (since this is allthingssorby) include my brother, Sten Sorby (contact him if you are, or are about to be, bankrupt) a semi-upscale office building (no relation); and a deceased British geologist (also no relation) who specialized in something called "slaty cleavage."

Reach me at:  AFSorby@gmail.com


The Sleeve Waves: Poems
Winner, Felix Pollak Prize, 2014

Inspired by thrift store knit sleeves, punk rock record sleeves, and, of course, print book sleeves, Angela Sorby explores how the concrete world hails us in waves of color and sound. She asks implicitly, “What makes the sleeve wave? Is it the body or some force larger than the self?” 

“Sometimes, if you’re very patient and a little lucky, a set of truly original poems will jolt you 
upright again, and you will read their unexpected, eccentric turns, their mesmerizing content and 
cadence, with gratitude and amazement and feel so glad you’re still alive.”

                                                                                                                                  —Naomi Shihab Nye, Pollak Prize Judge

Buy direct from University of Wisconsin Press, or from any online bookseller.


Winner, Brittingham Prize, 2009
Winner, Midwest Book Award, 2010
Wisconsin Library Association Recognition for Outstanding Achievement in Poetry, 2010

Obligatory Tony Hoagland blurb:  “Angela Sorby says, ‘The camera’s holier than the human mind: see how it filters out the truth and leaves the beauty.’ But Sorby’s disposition as a poet is to keep the truth in the picture—the rude, uncoordinated, self-destructive truth—and the skids and barrel rolls of perspective she performs with her idiomatic lyricism always keep the poem alive.”—Tony Hoagland, author of What Narcissism Means to Me

Buy direct from the University of Wisconsin Press:

SCHOOLROOM POETS:  Childhood, Performance, and the Place of American Poetry, 1865-1917
A Children's Literature Association Honor Book

"Angela Sorby's Schoolroom Poets is an extraordinarily intelligent, even brilliant reading of nineteenth-century American popular poetry and of the culture that gave it birth."  —Barton Levi St. Armand, in Modern Philology

N.B.: I happen to have about a hundred copies of this book in my sun porch and will send you one free, for the cost of postage, so email me if you want one.

Or, if you want to support university publishing, you can buy direct from UPNE:


"Esbjerg harbor barges, Prince DK tobacco, orris root, oil of lemon, Topsy the Coney Island elephant electrocuted in 1903, ash cakes, barnacle knuckles, Corey's Slug and Snail Death––Angela Sorby's poetry loves a feel of dense pungent facticity and finds anxiety there in the way Robert Lowell's poetry does."––Mark Halliday

I have copies of this one, too!  So I'll send you one for $5 plus postage.  Email me.  As an added bonus, all profits from the sale of my poetry books (that is, all of MY profits) go directly to the Half the Sky Foundation, which supports children in Chinese social welfare institutions.

Or, buy direct from New Issues/Western Michigan Press:

 The Sleeve Waves, my new poetry book, is out from the University of Wisconsin Press.

A Nelson Bentley toast & reading will occur @Hugo House in Seattle, Wednesday, 2/26, 4-6 p.m. Contact me for more info.

Karen Kilcup and I co-edited Over the River and Through the Wood, which will be released by JHUP in December 2013.  350 pages of nineteenth-century American children's poetry, plus added value as a door stop and/or bludgeon.

My  chapter on ED's education just appeared, thanks to Eliza Richards, editor of Emily Dickinson in Context (2013: Cambridge UP).

Naomi Shihab Nye selected my manuscript, The Sleeve Waves, for the 2013 Felix Pollak Prize.  The book will appear from University of Wisconsin Press in February, 2014.   Here is the "creepy baby" cover image:

Yes, this is the same press that administers the Brittingham Prize but NO, there was no smoke-filled back room involved!  

Four new poems are in Prairie Schooner, but only readable in the print edition.

The new Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics is out, and notable for its enormity.   I did the "Recitation" and "Fireside Poets" bits.

Interview at Poetry and Popular Culture is up!

I'll be reading with Ching-In Chen  and Peggy Rozga at the Southeast Wisconsin Festival of the Book, June 15 at 1 p.m., at UW-Waukesha.

A poem, "Stopping at the Joyce Kilmer Rest Area on a Snowy Evening" is out in the Winter 2012 North American Review

A poem, "Thrifting" is out in the Fall 2011 Massachusetts Review

A scholarly essay, "The Poetics of Bird-Defense in America, 1865-1918" can be found in Mike Chasar and Heidi Bean's 2011 edited collection, Poetry After Cultural Studies

"Snapshots of a Semester in China" in the Chronicle of Higher Education
Chronicle of Higher Education (essay)

Poetry Daily (poem)
Poetry/Popular Culture

Jacket (poem)

Born Magazine (poem)

OLD STUFF from 2010-11:

September 24
Fort Atkinson, WI
[This was fun.  Check out the Velvet Lips lounge.]

September 30
Madison, WI
[Also fun.  Thanks for the ice cream, Tracy.]

October 2
Overture Center
Madison, WI
[Ditto:  fun.  Actual conversations were had.]

October 6
on Downer, in MKE
7 pm
With Valerie Laken and others.

November 9
Windhover Center for the Arts
Fond du Lac, WI

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