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Cover of Hold Sway by Sally Ball
April 2019
Barrow Street Press

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Hold Sway

Sally Ball

To hold on to what is in motion, or to persist at being in motion (not inert!): these are the twin goals of Ball's poems. "Hold Sway" reckons with the presence of menace or threat in daily life, even in moments when all seems well enough, or when things look beautiful. Climate anxiety, numbing corporate manipulations of our attention, crimes on both a personal and a grand scale —like being someone's knife-point hostage, or filming the police after they have killed a suspect, or the Paris attacks, or the pollution of the oceans — all are tangled up with how to live one's American life (raising children, losing a marriage, watching T.V.) as Ball seeks "a footing in hope, ... a stay."


Sally Ball is associate professor of English in creative writing at ASU. She is also associate director of Four Way Books, a press based in New York City.

Praise for this book

“'Hold Sway' gives us that moment when our inner life meets the elements, meets something much vaster than ourselves, in poems as fearsome as they are astounding in their beauty ... I love how the nuanced journey into the world of one’s mind quickly becomes an acute social commentary, and the direct, uncompromising look which this poet takes at us, at our lives. Watch it! one poem implores: I love the cool bravery with which Ball watches us.”

Ilya Kaminsky

“The poems in 'Hold Sway' are full of living… Ball is not seeking a remedy; rather, she is building a demand to look beyond ‘naming what you’ve done,’ an imperative which constantly reveals the core of this collection, ‘(her) own heart unanswered.’ Somewhere in all of her unmade and unmaking is a space where we might find ourselves again or even for the first time.”

Natalie Diaz