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Winner of the 2007 Samuel French Morse Poetry Prize

Virginia Chase Sutton’s What Brings You to Del Amo is, by turns, both terrifying and comic. This collection of poems presents a vigilantly examined life, wringing wry and knowing but never smug composure from private and institutional experiences of mental illness, while also reminding us that the gap between extreme and ordinary states is often an illusion. Introducing the volume, Charles Harper Webb writes, “Sutton’s poems . . . delight with their fresh imagery, vivid perceptions, unusual perspectives, and general liveliness, even when their subject is suffering.”

Sutton welcomes her readers with bright imagery and high energy so that they will eagerly tag along, very glad for the wild ride. Webb states that this book,“in other words, is—to use a term not often applied to poetry—a good read.” The poems,“also explore less frequently chronicled aspects of mental illness, including the comedy, sexual highs/lows, manic elation—‘this glory’— of their bipolar narrator’s life.” Webb concludes, “I applaud the courage and craft required to write this extraordinary collection. I recommend it to you heartily." -Charles Harper Webb, judge


"What Brings You To Del Amo" is available for sale on the following sites:





What others are saying about What Bring You To Del Amo:

In Virginia Chase Sutton's 'What Brings You To Del Amo' [poems] delight with their fresh imagry, vivid perceptions, unusual perspectives, and general liveliness, even when their subject is suffering. This book, in other words, is--to use a term not often applied to poetry-- a 'good read' ... I applaud the courage and the craft required to write this extraordinary collection. I recommend it to you heartily. - Charles Harper Webb, Judge Samuel French Morse poetry prize 2007


Face it: as much as we love to glorify and extol the powers of the imagination, there are some things you have to see up close and personal in order to be able to bring them into the rarified circumstance of a poem. These would include death, and even worse, all manner of human degradation and suffering possible. Still, bearing witness, no matter how intimate, is no guarantee of good art either. Virginia Chase Sutton manages, no, she illuminates a seamlessness between what is real, and what is barely imaginable in our lives with such precision that you are compelled to bear witness beside her. The poems of What Bring You To Del Amo are relentless in their pursuit of us, and relentless too in their pursuit of the highest level of craft and care.
-Bruce Weigl


'Never construct narrative,' says a hospital shrink in Virginia Chase Sutton's riveting suite of poems, 'all you get are scraps.' But the marvel of Sutton's book is her ability to order a flashing series of scenes in order to tell, almost recklessly, not without hope, not without tenderness in the face of desolation, a life. A shattered life-- but the irony of that doctor's advice is that these fragments shored up against their speaker's ruin make, indeed, a coherent, vital testament, tenaciously alive. - Mark Doty


Eliot said, 'Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.' Jackknifed off the cliff of a desert life, tattoed onto the stretched skin of these pages, Sutton's history of inner turbulence amuses like a three-ring circus of gallows humor; rages, and circumgyrates through her psyche's raw picaresque that would throw a lesser poet to the mat. Reader, if you've got the chutzpah, this is the crossroads where imagination and art have a head-on with experience. This is the book. - Roger Weingarten