Horror Movie Dream Diner, by Cara Peterhansel-Print Books-Bottlecap Press

Horror Movie Dream Diner, by Cara Peterhansel

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Poetry, chapbook, 32 pages, from Bottlecap Features.

“Cara Peterhansel’s exquisite Horror Movie Dream Diner isn’t interested in jump scares. It charts quieter and more complex horrors, like the precariousness of human existence: “The mountains and I are both made of tinder, / and I stand quietly on the metaphor / I’m sick of making.” The speakers in these poems (some, delightfully, are horror movie heroines) reclaim center stage (“In this forest house, alone, my body runs the lights”), and address the full range of human emotions. There are tiny triumphs (“I remember shaking an entire can of baby powder / onto my parents’ bathroom tile // so I could feel like a small god in a pink dress”) alongside some small stabs at consolation: “I try to convince myself that / every grain of matter // has something like warm rain in it.””

—Matthea Harvey, author of If the Tabloids Are True What are You?

Horror Movie Dream Diner is sculpted with a hard won balance. Acceptance follows a roaring resistance to what threatens us, and in that stream of creativity we are reminded of how many ways there are to see what lies before us. These are tender offerings to the reader to visit the most vulnerable parts of herself. Peterhansel steps out delicately to reveal her frailties, her humanness, with a complexity that shines brightly on what life requires of us. We must go into our selves as deeply as possible, and learn how to be with the knowing so we can live.”

—Afaa M. Weaver, author of A Fire in the Hills

“The instant I finished reading the final tercet of Horror Movie Dream Diner, I returned to the opening and started again. As when watching the last scenes of a film where everything blooms then bursts into place, I needed to rewind, re-live the design pulsing through each revelation, reverberation and turn. Cara Peterhansel’s gorgeous poems of tenderness and disquiet find their ending and beginning here: “I…write, erase. Sit with / lungs full / of cardinals.” From “smoke shapes” to “the cornflower casket / and her sewn mouth,” from “the deep marrow of me” to the “shallows of soultide solitude,” yearnings and threats haunt every beauty, intimacy and threshold in this thrilling collection.”

—R.A. Villanueva, author of Reliquaria

Cara Peterhansel (she/her) is a queer poet living in Western Massachusetts. She holds an MFA in Poetry from Sarah Lawrence College. Her work explores the intersections of chronic illness, disability, neurodivergence, and queer intimacy. Her work has previously appeared or is forthcoming in Stone of Madness, Kissing Dynamite, Pidgeonholes, Defunkt Magazine, and the anthology A Body You Talk To: An Anthology on Contemporary Disability (Sundress Publications, 2023). She can be found online at carapeterhansel.com and @CPeterhansel on twitter.