Brynn Saito

Brynn Saito (Poetry) | Los Altos, CA

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Brynn Saito is the author of The Palace of Contemplating Departure, winner of the Benjamin Saltman Poetry Award from Red Hen Press and finalist for the 2013 Northern California Book Award. Her second book of poems, Power Made Us Swoon, will be published in March, 2016. Brynn co-authored, with Traci Brimhall, Bright Power, Dark Peace (a chapbook from Diode Editions). Her work has been anthologized by Helen Vendler and Ishmael Reed; it has also appeared in Virginia Quarterly Review, Ninth Letter, Hayden’s Ferry Review, and Poetry Northwest. Currently, Brynn lives and teaches in the San Francisco Bay Area.


Power Made Us Swoon (Red Hen Press, 2016). Poetry.
Power Made Us Swoon (Red Hen Press, 2016). Poetry.
The Palace of Contemplating Departure (Red Hen Press, 2013). Benjamin Saltman Prize. Poetry.
The Palace of Contemplating Departure (Red Hen Press, 2013). Benjamin Saltman Prize. Poetry.


Bright Power, Dark Peace (diode editions, 2013). With Tracy Brimhall. Poetry.
Bright Power, Dark Peace (diode editions, 2013). With Tracy Brimhall. Poetry.

Press & Reviews

“Seeing from positions on a 360-degree angle, Brynn’s surprise shifts in perspective can come sudden, from behind herself, describing the curve of her own spine, or from the eyes and sensibilities of stones witnessing construction of an internment camp, or from within an imaginary thought, a what if, a conversation with sky or ghosts, a bloody memory. Hers is a view from outside witnessing human experience—of nature itself watching. These time-and space-expanding images, requiring the skill of well-wrought poetry—poetry with a poetic—stay with the reader, and merge with a greater emotional, philosophical, and spiritual meaning.Electric kaleidoscopic imagery, yet the center holds its intention/s. Wouldn’t it be amazing to write like this.”
—Judy Grahn

“Between worlds do it sometimes seem move the forces of an inconnotable world and so Brynn Saito’s poems engage them on a level of narrative and lyric that be sometimes sorcerous, sometimes medicinal. The questions this book asks of its mythological and actual heroes are questions I want to know the answers to. Her own are brave—sure, you can expect that much—but they are also beautiful. As the poet reassures herself, “Your spirit is a songstress / occupying the sea.”
—Kazim Ali

The Palace of Contemplating Departure brims over with exacting and devastating details of terrain—of the ‘heart’s quick chirping,’ and of the ‘future… a bright coin spinning in sunlight.’ Saito proves a brave and whip-smart guide to recount journeys (both forced and chosen) around the word and the world. With a lyrical insistence gracing these pages, these alluring poems will both terrify and entrance in such a way that when you finally look up and close the book, you will have to wonder when and where you are. A dazzling and gorgeous debut!”
—Aimee Nezhukumatathil

“The body is merely a cage for the radiant and otherworldly in Brynn Saito’s startling debut collection, The Palace of Contemplating Departure. The manifold selves created here reside deeply inside mystery. These poems are fully alive as they struggle between opposing forces of life and death, conflict and peace, gods and demons, darkness and light, the material and heavenly. This is a sacred internal travel, carving its mighty shadow on the world. How vibrant is the voice of Brynn Saito; how angelic, bestial, seductive, and divine. The Palace of Contemplating Departure is an offering of the highest order, written in sanctuary, a promise on the tongue, a litany of urgent prayers.”
—Tina Chang

“No wonder that Brynn Saito, even at a young age, is already a member of the country’s literary establishment. Even her student poetry attracted the attention of Dame Helen Vendler. I think it’s because unlike much of contemporary poetry, hers has depth.”
—Ishmael Reed

“From the first pages of this brilliant new book readers will find a tough and vital vision that goes well beyond the personal, touching on aspects of American life you won’t have found expressed with such contemporary freshness and verve elsewhere. This largeness never inflates to bombast, but is guided by sympathetic wit and edgy, memorable phrasings. In one of her poems Brynn Saito writes, ‘It’s done: never again in my life / will I be only one thing.’ It’s her strong sense of mutability, even metamorphosis, I find most compelling. Real poetry by a real poet—one I expect to be reading for years to come.”
—David Mason

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