Forklift, Ohio


Cover of BURN IT DOWN by Katie Byrum

BURN IT DOWN by Katie Byrum

112 pages, soft cover, perfect-bound, 5.5" x 8.5"



Seven Deadly Sins: New York Edition

You wouldn’t believe
the emergencies I’ve walked past—
I’ve refused change to beggars
with leftovers burning a hole in my bag,
I have snarled at fat men
who called me beautiful,
feigned sick in the face of birthdays—
too far on the train, too far—felt lust
crackle in a subway car: hands touching
on the pole; I let them, I let them—
I have plugged my ears, shoved tourists
& given the dirtiest looks:
oh you who eat tuna on the train,
oh you holder-of-doors, the god-sized
width of your strollers, I am sorry, I was wrathful;
I have eyeballed the shoes of countless
handsome women & let a competition
grow in me, I have stolen from the lost
& found & picked flowers
I did not grow
& as for the woman
whose headscarf bobbed with Christ
has risen—I bowed my head
& went back to my book



In Katie Byrum’s BURN IT DOWN, Shakespeare meets Szymborska meets Frank O’Hara meets ”the Warehouse of Byrum“ to lead us into love’s black humor where ”It’s dangerous to be a human being.“ The speaker here is full of whiskey and apology, eros and ”fashionable danger“—she goes to the ”corner store, no panties on,“ pours Drano in her coffee, and fixes her problem ”with more of the same problem,“ aka men. Tenderness and vulnerability battle it out with bitterness; the result is this exhilarating book, half snow-globe, half gorgeous wary lament.
—Catherine Barnett


The language-to-feeling ratio in Katie Byrum’s BURN IT DOWN is just about perfect. Her ear for the music of speech is in sync with her passionate curiosity about the abandonments and fulfillments of domestic love and erotic life. The quiet charm and sophistication of a line like ”On the hotel’s quilted bed / Adam reclines, eating cookies / in the late Etruscan style,“ finds its extravagant counterpart in her homage to Catullus: ”Whether I will be gadabout, vagabond, magnet, / or dig down to the innermost spot where the core wound booms, / as Pacific surf hits black cliffs...“ Always linguistically alive, these poems are inventive and authentic in what they feel.
—Tom Sleigh



Katie Byrum author photo

Katie Byrum is a native Kentuckian who currently lives in Brooklyn, New York. For sixteen years, she has worked in the food and beverage industry, studying whiskey and its effects on the human psyche. She co-curates two poetry events in Brooklyn, the witchy series COVEN and the Tri-Lengua Reading Series.

Her work has been featured in Gulf Coast Magazine, Lumberyard, Big Bell, iO Poetry, Split Lip Magazine, Ghost Town, Pine Hills Review, H_NGM_N, Forklift, Ohio, Handsome, Poor Claudia: Phenome, and elsewhere. Visit her online at