Half-Hazard is a book of close calls, would-be tragedies, and luck - as Kristen Tracy writes in the title poem, "Dangers here. Perils there. It'll go how it goes." The collection follows her wide curiosity, from growing up in a small Mormon farming community to her exodus out into the forbidden world. Full of wrong turns, false loves, quashed beliefs, and a menagerie of animals, Half-Hazard introduces a vibrant new voice in American poetry, one of resilience, faith, and joy.
"Tracy, a prolific author of tween and teen fiction, debuts in verse with an irresistible collection selected for the Poetry Foundation’s Emily Dickinson First Book Award. These energetic poems showcase a writer who knows how to draw readers in - with short sentences, quick turns, and a comic edge that courts disaster. Readers should feel refreshed by Tracy’s enjoyable turn to the lyric." - Publishers Weekly, Starred Review
"The edgy, surprising poems in Kristen Tracy's Half-Hazard . . . are as readable as good fiction. Tracy, the author of a dozen novels for young readers . . . here delivers a more personal and introspective work. . . .The writing is delightfully crisp and wry, and always walks a tightrope between hope and disaster." - The Washington Post
"Veteran young adult novelist Kristen Tracy's Half-Hazard is a stunning debut collection of poems both playful in language and thoughtful in observation... remarkably accomplished collection... Tracy's personal pain and diligent ambition bring a good deal of ambivalence and perspective to poems that ring with the fresh sounds of a conversationalist and wordsmith. Tracy doesn't miss a thing. Her poems capture the half-empty glass without flinching, but in the end, they come down on the side of half-full." - Bruce Jacobs, Shelf Awareness
"When you open this book, the energy pops off the page. It's a free-wheeling, lack of fear of language. Maybe the confidence that lights up the word comes from years of writing novels, sharpening so many pencils and ideas. Whatever makes for the holy fire, I love it. Tracy is so real you can almost touch her with her observations, mishaps, wry information. There's sadness here, too. Who can avoid this? But something wonderful holds everything up like a gleaming net under an acrobat's high-wire act." - Washington Independent Review of Books
"Kristen Tracy’s collection Half-Hazard . . . was twenty years in the making. And so, it should come as no surprise that time plays a pivotal role in this outstanding collection. Time is the medium across which cruelty unfolds towards the plants, animals, and people that we share the world with - and it is the medium through which we bear witness." - The Arkansas International
"The poems in Kristen Tracy's searing debut, Half-Hazard, are like films you see in your dreams. They feel palpably continuous, while their jump-cuts and leaps catapult you through a wild narrative terrain. These poems live on the bright edge where realism and absurdity meet. Tracy's prodigious talents craft a world that, once entered, you never wish to return from." - Claudia Rankine
"Half-Hazard is a remarkable debut. The poems are full of shocking little truths and told in a language that stops us with its ingenuity while running forward with narrative pace. In lines that sound both meticulous and natural, Kristen Tracy rivets our attention as she hides and reveals herself, flowering from girl into woman. And if that is not enough, the poems are bustling with all manner of animals - mice, impala, lions, geese, mad dogs, pigs - doing everything from devouring one another to looking through the bars of a zoo. This book is a surprising box of treats." - Billy Collins
"What animal grace in these poems of the human stumble and dance on the road to becoming human. These songs of lively observation are wise and wiser. Watch out for laughter as it rides the ocean of tears that slams at the shore of all of us ragged inhabitants, animal and human, right here, in these poems. There is no ducking the political. From 'What We Did Before Our Apocalypse': 'We held hands underneath the table / ...and prayed. We watched an old man insult / nearly everybody and then let him fondle the nukes.' This first collection of poetry by Kristen Tracy is a keeper." - Joy Harjo
"When Kristen Tracy's dazzling Half-Hazard arrived in the mail, I had been reading the critic John Berger and thinking about his claim that to deliver the true ambiguity of experience requires the most demanding verbal precision. Berger writes about authenticity in literature, and here it is, poem after authentic poem, as thrilling a read as I've had in a long time. Here is an unmistakable talent, someone with the verbal dexterity of a Sylvia Plath, who finds ways to stay alive amid the difficulties of love and loving. 'The things we kiss goodbye make room for all we kiss hello,' she concludes in 'Field Lesson,' just one of the many memorable moments in this first-rate debut." - Stephen Dunn
"There's a serious, addictive playfulness to the poems in Half-Hazard. The comic-inflected, subversive voice of this debut makes metaphors strike with the lightning of one-liners and turns of phrase turn transformative. Kristen Tracy writes with a sense of sustained invention that, poem by poem, gathers into a vivid, figurative fabric." - Stuart Dybek
"If you’re a rabbit or cow or mouse or human, beware this book - there is risk here for all who breathe. The cure? Embrace this book, for Kristen Tracy's curiosity and resilience, her appreciation for the collision as well as the near-miss, her affection for the hangers-on as well as the thrivers, will engage you if this sounds at all like who you are or want to be - 'Love hears me coming and waits/on every stair' -- and why wouldn't it?" - Bob Hicok
Half-Hazard was released in paperback on November 6th, 2018.
Recommended for adults.