top of page
Goners Cover.jpg

Informed by feminist philosopher Donna Haraway’s notion

of “staying with the trouble,” the poems in Kristi Maxwell's Goners 

use the lipogram (writing that excludes one or more letters) to engage with the human-driven mass extinction event underway. Specifically, these lipograms do not use the letters in the names of the endangered animals in the poems' titles, a form Maxwell calls an extinction—

to explore what happens when what is endangered is instead absent—gone. The piece “Cheetah,” for instance, uses 21 of 26 letters, all but “a,” “c,” “e,” “h,” and “t,” so no articles, no cats, no being, no are or were or was, no choice, etc. (no etc.). The formal strategy of the lipogram

nods to global trends regarding climate change and strategies

of elimination (eliminating carbon emissions, red meat consumption, plastic, and so on).




Kristi Maxwell’s Goners generates a wild and uncanny language for 'unknowing us.' Marking creaturely absences, inventing dizzying idioms, Maxwell’s lipograms are a distorted, illuminating mirror held to our calamitous present. These astonishing poems offer a new way of understanding extinction as a massive terraforming project, not only of Earth systems and species lifeways, but also of language itself. Erased, enclosed, destroyed, reinvented: the ecopoetic syntax of Goners reveals the terrifying and wondrous work poetry can do to chronicle the violence of anthropogenic making and to imagine other possible futures. 

Margaret Ronda, author of Remainders: American Poetry at Nature’s End 

Praise & Reviews

In these harrowing poems of climate despair, Maxwell rakes elegiac songs from the 'sunken forms' that appear, in language and in landscape, as species vanish from our planet. These lyrics, virtuosic in their attention to image, line and sonic texture, pour into each animal-absence a full measure of radiant grief for all we've lost and are losing. With each poem, Goners opens profound spaces of inquiry, of mourning, and of reckoning unlike any I've read before; this book is a tour de force. 

Kiki Petrosino, author of White Blood: A Lyric of Virginia

Kristi Maxwell’s Goners evinces language as our species’ most joyous production and the technology of our most total and fatal predations on the planet, our fellow creatures, those we perceive as other, those we perceive as ours. English is the imperial language par excellence, both in its colonial and corporate modes; just so, as the tones and phonologies of English wash around in these salty pools, syntaxes of harm are temporarily suspended, while English’s harmful sequalae, extraction and extinction, are everywhere in effect. Amidst the systole and diastole of such loss and invention, I feel a strange new inclination suddenly leap forth. I think it is towards the next. Kristi Maxwell, what's next?

Joyelle McSweeney, author of Toxicon and Arachne


Virtual & In-Person

Living Futures Saturdays in Durham, NC

Kristi Maxwell with James Keul

March 2, 2024


About Kristi Maxwell

Kristi Maxwell is the author of eight books of poems,

including Goners (Green Linden Press, 2023), winner

of the Wishing Jewel Prize; My My (Saturnalia Books, 2020); 

Realm Sixty-four, editor’s choice for

the Sawtooth Poetry Prize and finalist for the National Poetry Series; and Hush Sessions, editor’s choice for the Saturnalia Books Poetry Prize.


A 2022-23 American-Scandinavian Foundation Fellow,

she’s an associate professor of English

at the University of Louisville.

bottom of page