Sara Tracey is the author of Some Kind of Shelter (Misty Publications, 2013) and the chapbook Flood Year (dancing girl press, 2009). Her work has recently appeared in RHINO, Vinyl Poetry, The Collagist, Arsenic Lobster, and elsewhere. Formerly a performer with the Chicago Poetry Bordello and a Teaching Artist at the Rooster Moans Poetry Cooperative, Sara is now a consultant for a workforce and economic development firm. A native of the rust belt, Sara has recently returned to her home state of Ohio after six years in Chicago. She is pursuing her Ph.D. in English.

Sara Tracey’s Some Kind of Shelter follows the coming-of-age of two young Midwestern women as their lives and loves take them to Arizona, Florida, and back to the familiar shores of the Great Lakes. Physical and emotional distances drive these fraught and beautiful poems, the speaker and Stella always longing for the comfort of their friendship and the lovers who can’t be saved by love. Tracey elegizes and laments these absences, cataloging the doubt engendered by desire: “I fell in love with you at a four a.m. bar./I fell in love with you on the surgeon’s table…How much of this is true?” Through the distances and doubts, Tracey explores what the body can bear and how much forgiveness love requires.

—Traci Brimhall, author of Rookery and Our Lady of the Ruins

Sara Tracey’s first full-length collection pays tribute to the small myths and subtle beauties that make life profound. “Before we came here, we were barefoot girls wading in a creek. Before we came here, we had worn denim and rubber boots,” states “Lament with Gravel Roads,” one of many poems that feel so intimate, it’s like we have experienced them ourselves. Some Kind of Shelter dazzles with its assembly of characters, and its use of story to unite even the most dissimilar paths on a map. This is a promising debut by a poet who treats the world with great compassion, and never overlooks the brilliance found in humble places.

Mary Biddinger, author of O Holy Insurgency and Saint Monica


Tracey maps a girlhood lineage embedded in danger, wreckage, yearning and healing. Her poems are love letters snared on bloody barbwire, often inhabited by the character of cousin Stella, a twinning figure for the book’s speaker.  Enter the hazardous, smoky, erotic atmosphere of Some Kind of Shelter awash in Spanish moss, Van Halen songs, black ice, hymnals and hunter’s moons, and be spellbound by her gut-wrenching poems: “a string of grace notes” craftily insisting “this will only hurt a little.”

—Simone Muench, author of Wolf Centos and Orange Crush


Sara Tracey illuminates the lives of the working class and the broken hearted with language “clipped from hymnals.”  The people in her poems know the “small magic” of cheap beer, pickup trucks, and dollar stores. They yearn to flee and to return to landscapes where the “dirt is made from bones.” These portraits, of course, are also searing self-portraits. Tracey’s empathic gaze earns my trust as a reader. Her soulful command of the line and of the image earns my respect as a poet.

—Eduardo C. Corral, author of Slow Lightning (Yale Series of Younger Poets, 2011)