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Winner of the 2022 Headlight Review Chapbook Prize in Poetry Writing, available here.   

Good Mother Lizard doesn’t back down from the challenges of motherhood, mental health issues, or the death of a sister and father. Instead, Lisa Alletson faces them head-on. Even when they “burn open (her) eyes,” revealing “freckles are holes” and DNA is worn “like a casualty,” she still savors how an apricot’s stone is “tangled like jazz.” For Lisa, finding beauty, no matter how devastating, is an act of defiant survival.

—Tina Mozelle Braziel

Philip Levine Prize–winning author of Known by Salt


Lisa Alletson writes as an archaeologist guide in twenty-seven stunning, often-surreal poems that feature unfolding life layers. Her mother tongue (and mother lizard) is authentic and honest throughout. In this award-winning debut collection, Alletson creates an unflinching, sensory field guide slash diary. Each poem entry is infused with her memorable imagination: a girl with quilted hands, cold planets in a throat, freckles that are holes, a dress and girl that are shadows, a rogue cotton sycophant, fog beetle performing a handstand, blue moth night brushed with sleeping pills, thrum and ashes.

—Amy Barnes

author of Mother Figures and Ambrotypes


In Good Mother Lizard, we encounter visceral poems written with a sharp precision and urgent transparency. Through these introspective yet accessible poems we empathize with the speaker’s sense of isolation, yet a fierce integrity of conscience also shines through. “I close my eyes. / Fall

/ as a / wet word / into the Namib desert,” writes Alletson in her dazzling debut collection. These are candid, vital poems which blaze through our eyes into our conscience, penetrating the landscape of our souls.

—Jose Hernandez Diaz

NEA Fellow and author of The Fire Eater

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