How to Love the Empty Air by Cristin O'Keefe Aptowicz

5 Stars!

Vulnerable, beautiful and ultimately life-affirming, Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz’s work reaches new heights in her revelatory seventh collection of poetry. Continuing in her tradition of engaging autobiographical work, How to Love the Empty Air explores what happens when the impossible becomes real―for better and for worse. Aptowicz’s journey to find happiness and home in her ever-shifting world sees her struggling in cities throughout America. When her luck changes―in love and in life―she can’t help but “tell the sun / tell the fields / tell the huge Texas sky…. / tell myself again and again until I believe it.” However, the upward trajectory of this new life is rocked by the sudden death of the poet’s mother. In the year that follows, Aptowicz battles the silencing power of grief with intimate poems burnished by loss and a hard-won humor, capturing the dance that all newly grieving must do between everyday living and the desire “to elope with this grief, / who is not your enemy, / this grief who maybe now is your best friend. / This grief, who is your husband, / the thing you curl into every night, / falling asleep in its arms…” As in her award-winning The Year of No Mistakes, Aptowicz counts her losses and her blessings, knowing how despite it all, life “ripples boundless, like electricity, like joy / like... laughter, irresistible and bright, / an impossible thing to contain.”

HOW TO LOVE THE EMPTY AIR brilliantly illuminates why we read poetry, and why poetry is needed. We read it to see another person’s unique experience, but also to help us clarify our own. And we read it to reassure ourselves that what we experience and feel it part of a larger human drama that we all share.  Cristin reminds readers how huge, life-shifting events are totally unique and personal—and yet, they are also universal.

Cristin O'Keefe Aptowicz is the author of seven books of poetry, including The Year of No Mistakes, crowned the Book of the Year for Poetry by the Writers' League of Texas. She is also the author of two books of nonfiction, most recently Dr Mütter's Marvels: A True Tale of Intrigue and Innovation at the Dawn of Modern Medicine, which spent three months on the New York Times Best Seller List. Recent awards include a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, the ArtsEDGE write-in-residency at the University of Pennsylvania and the Amy Clampitt Residency. When not on the road, she lives in Austin with her husband.

Check out her beautiful website - HERE

Definitely "Vulnerable and beautiful". This is a very heartwarming and heart breaking story told in poems. What's more heart breaking than the death of someone's mother unfolding on the pages before you? I actually got choked up a few times reading this. I am sure this will be one I will read over more than a few times. I have already read most of it twice!

Besides just being sad - this is real. Cristin gets a little snarky at times, and I love that. I love that she could mix a little humor with this heaviness that was on her heart. I am glad that she could share this with her readers. I am glad that I was allowed into her life for a bit. Thank you Cristin for letting me into your life through your poetry! I do hope I get to read more from you!

These are two of my favorites -

I voluntarily posted this review after receiving a copy of this book from Poetic Book Tours Thank You!!

Order your copy from Amazon - HERE


  1. Thank you for being on this blog tour. I'm so glad this resonated with you. I loved this collection.


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