Poems for our Ex Lovers

Everyone has a poem for an ex-lover out there. Knowing this, The Dust sponsored a book of poems embracing this theme. Created through submissions from mostly local contributors, the book debuted on Valentine's Day in a non-traditional celebration of the date. It can be found in store at Back of Beyond Books, Moab Made, and Bike Fiend, and is available for online purchase at www.backofbeyondbooks.com. All proceeds benefit The Dust’s non-profit efforts to continue to produce projects like these.

Editors: Jacque Garcia, Jenna Talbott, Parker Marlow, Josie Kovash, Molly Hazell
Illustrations: Hassnaa
Cover Art: Dailey Haren
Book Design: Emma Renly + Jojo Maston

Contributers: “ADP,” Andrea Burggraf, Chris Whalen, Dylan Manderlink, Emma Renly, Dailey Haren, Erin Connery, Hannah Sisler, Hassnaa, Jacque Garcia, Jenna Talbott, Jojo Maston, Jonathan Amador, Kunal Argawal, Laura Duncan, Leo Anders, Levi Weiler, Molly Hazell, Molly Halfman, Noah Ferriera, Parker Marlow, Ryan Pohl, Seamus Cronin, Sophia Ernest, Tiffany Jade, Will Fulwider

From the mouths of the team themselves, here are some highlights, struggles, and things to look forward to in the book. 

From Josie:

There is nothing more universal and yet so personal than heartbreak. If we weren’t aware of the universality of it, this whole business of human connection and disconnection would be enough to send all of us into eternal hermitage. It has been an honor to read these poems, and reaffirm how fundamentally joined we all are in our darkest, rawest, most desperately alone moments.

From Emma:

This book is pretty much Canadian because I have done most of the work while skiing in Canada. So it's Canadian.

My goal was to showcase each poem, but not to have them in competition with each other. I also wanted each chapter to have a unique characteristic or theme but still share a cohesion with the entire book, which is much easier said than done.

Luckily, I had some stupidly insanely beautiful illustrations to work with that brought the book - and the poems- alive. Hassnaa's art is the reason the book design turned out so nice.

I'm really excited for everyone to see how the book turned out but also really nervous. I've had photos and writings published before but this is a whole new territory for me. 

From Jenna:

Watching a loose idea turn into a collection of contributions, and from a collection into a work of art in itself, was the neatest thing. So often in our culture, we use the artist within us to seek individual recognition, individual success, and individual identity. The contributors to this book of poems have dug up art from their most vulnerable depths, and offered it up, freely, to the collective. Through this process, whispers and shouts have been freed from individual closets and now belong to all of us in some capacity. They are shared--and so we see that we are not alone. Maybe misery really does love company! As I read all the poems, I felt myself slip into each one, relating to it in some fashion and discovering pieces of myself that I didn't know were there. I'm grateful to each and every contributor--it was an honor to help lay these pieces to rest. Or is it that they've only just begun?

And now, as a sneak peak, the foreward of the book, written by yours truly.

This whole thing started as a joke.

When the very first inkling of the idea came to me, I sat on a yoga pillow drinking a glass of wine talking about heartbreak with a few close friends and confidantes. We talked about loves had and lost, about trials and heartaches, and about the lesson we’ve learned from them. I lamented my various failed attempts at a love life and dryly remarked that after everything, all I had to show for it was a rather large collection of poems for my ex-lovers.

As Jenna, one of the collaborators on this project later remarked, everyone has poems for their ex-lovers. Even if one does not consider themselves to be a writer, or to be interested in writing, or would scoff at the idea of even writing a poem, the likelihood is that they still, somewhere deep down, have a poem for an ex-lover. And, as it soon became apparent, many of us feel the urge share them.

As I continued to talk about this project, now only half joking, the poems came rolling in from friends and acquaintances near and far. And as I began to read them, I realized just how relatable they were. The submissions covered a diverse and varying array of emotions and themes, but I found myself wrapped into every single one. The extreme poignance of the realization that something so personal and so intimate could still be so universally experienced was not lost on me.

And so this thing that began as a joke took the shape of an outlet for community catharsis. I started to see this book as a way to boldly and courageously express our raw experiences of heartbreak, to own our feelings and wear our hearts on our sleeves, and to write them out on paper and demonstrate that none of us is alone in this. With this ethos in mind, Poems for Our Ex-Lovers (PXL) was born.

The number of submissions we received for PXL was higher than we ever anticipated. Each and every poem in this book was hard earned through life experience and artfully crafted by its author. The contributors truly gave us their hearts and their souls. They are this book. To you, contributors, I am personally so grateful. Thank you for sharing with me a piece of yourselves.

In order to ensure this is a project for communal healing and not one of malice and vitriol, especially in Moab (a town of 5,000 where many of the contributors reside), the team that put this book together decided to separate the names of the poets from their poems. Their bios are featured at the end of the book.

To Jenna, Parker, Josie, Molly, and Emma, the team of volunteers that helped bring this book to life, thank you for blindly jumping into this project. You each brought a uniquely refreshing perspective to the book, and it would not have been the same without you. In fact, it would not have been at all. I enjoyed working with each of you immensely and am so grateful to have you in my life. I look forward to roping you into more projects in the future.

︎ hello@dustcreative.co