“In All Blue So Late, Laura Swearingen-Steadwell reminds us that history is personal, and the personal is history. In cyclical poems that play the past off the present, Swearingen-Steadwell builds a large and captivating story out of smaller lyric moments, the resulting work both whispered as if to a friend and declaimed as if from a stage. The speaker of these poems claims ‘I’ll tell you all my secrets’ but in the end what is not shared is almost as powerful as what is.”

—C. Dale Young, author of The Day Underneath the Day and The Halo 

ALL BLUE SO LATE is Laura’s second collection of poems, and winner of the 2016 Cave Canem Northwestern University Press Prize. You can order the book directly from the author! Reach out if you’d like her to send you books, including signed or personally inscribed copies. Books are also available on the Northwestern University Press website. I’ve  more endorsements.


“All Blue So Late is a haunting coming of age; a slow and writhing  eruption of womanhood through layers of heat, siren and loss. Laura Swearingen-Steadwell has a plaintive, truthful voice that ripples with blues and never wavers towards solipsism. She reckons with an American landscape of Midwestern fluorescence and coastal grit to render poems fused with blistered song.”

—Tyehimba Jess, Author of Olio and Leadbelly

All Blue So Late emerges from the beautiful refusal to choose between lyric and narrative modes. Part adventure novel, part tragic opera, part psychosocial quest, this collection goes ‘bildungsromaning’ on its own fiercely original course.  The journey is symphonic, layered, and gripping.  This collection has been eagerly anticipated for good reason: Swearingen-Steadwell’s voice holds ‘[g]hosts/ dissolving on an outstretched tongue’ and movingly gifts language with “the benefit/of new intention.'” —Mary Szybist, author of Incarnadine: Poems

All Blue So Late is a collection of libretti for agitated souls. Each poem has deeply inventive and disturbing candor. Laura Swearingen-Steadwell is narratively fearless. Her ghosts and demons rise from a deeper place than I could have previously imagined. If there is a template for the autobiographical/ mystical dimensions of this book, it perhaps is The Woman Pouring Handfuls of Ash.  The fabrics of this poet’s experience may at first seem torn to pieces and then, to a careful reader, finally reveal themselves as whole-cloth and entirely beautiful. An immensely talented poet.” —Howard Norman, author of Next Life Might Be Kinder

The artwork on both Laura’s book covers is by Angela Davis Fegan.


Laura’s first collection, How to Seduce a White Boy in Ten Easy Steps, can be purchased online. I recommend avoiding Amazon whenever possible due to their terrible labor practices, their role in decimating independent book sellers and publishers, and the fact that presses and authors tend not to receive any profit at all through their sales. Worth thinking about.