Linda Tomol Pennisi

These sophisticated poems approach the slippery and subtle areas between beauty and darkness, sanity and disorientation, and hunger and survival, and, in so doing, create a coherent story about the grace and fragility of being female. Pennisi’s light touch and restraint set these poems apart. Her language is masterful, varied, musical, and precise.

Somewhere in a Dark Auditorium

A ballerina will not stop
inserting her small foot
into a slim pink shoe,
crisscrossing silk ribbons
over the bone of ankle.
Sometimes I slip into the inside
of her body, where the soul
wells into the walls that cup
the music, quivering there
like a diver in a swarm
of tropical fishes, her shape brushed
with undulations of hunger
and wonder, a hundred bodies
of tremulous light. The dancer’s shoes
fill with flesh; her flesh
brims with music. What can she do
with such hunger, such sadness?
What can her body do
but tremble and spill
into dance?


Listen to “Red Running through It,” “Wor(l)ds,” “Any Weather,” “Somewhere in a Dark Auditorium,” “Lost Shoes,” and “Reddening the Moon,” read by Linda Tomol Pennisi:

Cover image: Seamless

Out of print

“Pennisi’s power is in her ability to precisely and hauntingly spell out a phenomenological wellness or illness with words, to detect fragility, failure, beauty — and more often than not, their co-existence.” The Southeast Review
“Pennisi seems to know intuitively those lessons that Rilke’s ‘young poet’ had to be taught: that poetic imagery must be drawn from the depth of one’s experiences and obsessions rather than willed into being.”
“This work is extraordinarily sensuous, tracing the movement of bodies through trauma to revelation, through fear to inspiration. And while there is a certain delicacy here, there is also a great deal of confidence. These poems are mature and sure of themselves.” New Pages
“Amid a landscape fecund and austere, daily and mythic, past and present and timeless, and with perfect pitch for the images and cadences of sadness and possibility, Linda Pennisi negotiates the life, the lives, of women, that ‘fragility of saneness.’” —Robin Behn
“Presenting a poetry of ballerinas and birds, of blood and garden, Linda Pennisi surveys the boundaries of what seems — between coal seam and scar, between place and body, between the sowing and the harvest. Celebratory, sensuous, concentrated, and radiant, this is a poetry of mouths.” —Patrick Lawler
“[Linda Pennisi] asks the lyric to do the difficult but essential work of erasing the boundaries between Eros and spirit, between the mythic and the quotidian, and she undertakes this task with poise, persistence, and a deft command of free verse form. Seamless is a splendid debut.” —David Wojahn

Author photograph by Mary Stebbins

Linda Tomol Pennisi

Linda Tomol Pennisi’s chapbook, Suddenly, Fruit, was chosen by William Pitt Root as winner of the Carolina Wren Press chapbook prize. Poems have appeared in McSweeney’sHunger MountainLyric Poetry Review, and Faultline. A recipient of an Individual Artists Grant from the Constance Saltonstall Foundation, Pennisi is director of the Creative Writing Program at Le Moyne College in Syracuse, NY. Seamless is her first full-length collection. Her second full-length book, The Burning Boat, was released by Nine Mile Books in 2022.

Browse Our Books

View All Books