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loudest when startled

Cover & Interior Design: Alban Fischer

Oct 29, 2020 | ISBN 978-1-936919-85-7

paperback | 118 pages


In loudest when startled, their powerful first collection of poems, luna rey hall melds beauty and terror to explore America’s gun culture. Born into a hunting family in Minnesota, hall describes with chilling precision the damage inflicted on animal and human bodies alike. “how a safety/ means nothing/ how the bullet sputters/ then blooms” they write in “how a bullet works.” But hall is also an outsider, bearing witness to the horrors that attend our national obsession—a brother’s suicide, police shootings, mass shootings, including at schools. “… eight students / were struck/by the brash /head of a bullet / during their second / period class/at their tiny/wooden desks.” The strength in these poems comes from their emotional complexity. hall never sits in judgement. “i become deer” they write, “become family / a brother / teaching a brother / how to aim down / the sight.” loudest when startled is an honest, unsparing book— all the more reason for its necessity. 

—Ellen Bass, Indigo


The language of loudest when startled—direct, exquisite—bristles with yearning and violence. ‘[W]herever my brother is / i am with him,’ luna rey hall writes, aware that their brother’s intimacy with hunting and guns divides them while it also connects them both. Proximity to violence, as hall acutely makes clear, is a fact of our society. It kindles fear, depression, and an instinctual flight response. hall never truly flees, though. In these poems, they set their hurt next to their brother’s hurt. This book is beautifully crafted, emotionally rich. I wept when I finished reading it.

—Eduardo C. Corral,  Guillotine


In loudest when startled we find the world of the hunter and hunted strikingly rendered and melded with that of the poet who is neither hunter nor hunted, but haunted by the echoes of violence ringing outward and inward and ever louder. Through vivid, arresting imagery and the iconography of firearms, these poems explore the damage guns inflict, both physically and psychically.

—Matt Rasmussen, Black Aperture

loudest when startled

SKU: 2001005
$18.00 Regular Price
$13.50Sale Price
  • About loudest when startled

    The poems in loudest when startled, luna rey hall’s debut collection, explore the ways in which gun violence has become part of the fundamental nature of relationships, family, and American masculinity—so much so that the bullet has been rendered benign, just another news story, just another obituary, just another walk down the street. The poetry in loudest when startled follows two brothers born into gun culture as they navigate their relationship to anger, loss, and guns in entirely different ways with different outcomes yet leaving us with a sense that we are all both predator and prey.

  • About luna rey hall

    luna rey hall is a queer trans non-binary writer. they are the author of space neon neon space (Variant Lit, 2022), no matter the diagnosis (Game Over Books, 2023), the patient routine (Brigids Gate Press, 2023), and loudest when startled (YesYes Books, 2020), longlisted for the 2020 Julie Suk Award. they are the winner of the 2013 Patsy Lea Core in Memorial Award for Poetry. their poems have appeared in The Florida Review, The Rumpus & Raleigh Review, among others. they live in St. Paul, MN.

YesYes Books
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