Leah Umansky lives in New York City and is the author of Domestic Uncertainties (Blazevox, 2012) and two chapbooks, Straight Away the Emptied World (Kattywompus Press, 2016) and Don Dreams and I Dream (Kattywompus Press, 2014). She is a graduate of the MFA in Poetry at Sarah Lawrence College. 

The Barbarous Century is a journey through the stories that inform us and the stories we tell ourselves. Confessional, without being confessional, and with compelling wordplay, and lyricism, Umansky illustrates the many challenges we all face in being human: how to be good in a world-gone wrong. It uses varied dystopias embedded in myth, story, technology and popular culture to highlight the struggle of being a woman in the 21st century. With longing, resentment, humor and desire, these intriguing poems highlight the want for an easier and gentler way to navigate this world we call ours.


"In The Barbarous Century, Leah Umansky writes, ‘I want to make and I want the making to do wondrous things.’ And in this book, Umansky has made something wondrous indeed. In these poems, ‘even the dark has its blossoms’; these are troubled times, as the words acknowledge, and yet we are forging ahead, ‘taking the best parts of us into a future dawning with art and voice.’ "— MAGGIE SMITH

"When we talk about books of poetry being generous, we’re talking about collections like Leah Umansky’s The Barbarous Century. Here are poems that lay out everything they’ve got. Poems that call forth a cast of voices ranging from W.B. Yeats to Daenerys Targaryen to Azar Nafisi to Emily Dickinson to Don Draper. Poems that ‘spuddle’ towards romance, that cherish ‘the bristle and the fat,’ that invite in ‘another delicate storm of possible.’ What fullness, what symphony, what verve Umansky has conjured here! The Barbarous Century is a wild, magnificent achievement." — KAVEH AKBAR

"The Barbarous Century carries the reader into poetic realms that are both brutal and joyous. A book for our times." — DOIREANN NÍ GHRÍOFA

"In The Barbarous Century, Leah Umansky’s voice, intelligent and intuitive, reaches into each poem to investigate the wondrous and terrible condition of humanity." — RACHEL ELIZA GRIFFITH

"Leah Umansky’s exploration of internal and external dystopias includes the lyric itself, which she meticulously constructs and deconstructs. A poet’s poet, Umansky gives equal attention to traditional and contemporary poetic modes, possessing wit, insight, intellect and all manner of aural resources." — KATHRYN MARIS

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