books & cds

Cradling Monsoons

Sarah’s first full-length collection, Cradling Monsoons won the 2010 Blue Light Book Award and the 2011 Nebraska Book Award for Poetry.

“’It’s terrible, / getting what you want, / because that’s when you know you’ll always want/something different’ confesses the speaker in Cradling Monsoons with a fabulously poignant bravado that keeps the reader tractor-beamed in thrall and enthralled within the light of these smart, funny, heartbreakingly gorgeous poems. Opening with a poem about a father who “cut down his family tree / to build a bridge from Kokomo to San Francisco that’s still burning,” the speaker in Sarah McKinstry-Brown’s poems conversely puts down roots and stays for the birth of a first child whose arrival sets the city of everything she knew before on fire. Curbing her own impulses for wanderlust and fi re-starting, she instead stands squarely within the blaze that is motherhood and family—that cycle of immolation, flame, ash, and rekindling—in poems that gracefully shape shift between the different, conflicting identities contemporary women embody: daughter, lover, mother, artist. These poems make art from life, and reveal the making and living of life as an art of terrible power and tenderness. These poems are pure muscle, fierce heart.” -Lee Ann Roripaugh, author of On the Cusp of a Dangerous Year

“The poems in this stunning first collection are “accessible” in the best sense of that word, in the sense that Stephen Dunn’s, Dorianne Laux’s, and Ted Kooser’s are. The subjects come mostly from everyday life—Picture Day at school, a Folgers commercial, comfort food, December in Omaha, ‘the Tall, Blondehaired, Blue-eyed, Smart, Talented Woman who Keeps Hitting on my Husband’ —in which the poet discovers the extraordinary. The lines seem like intense conversation, but they are, at the same time, deeply engaging poetry that shows a mastery of sound and rhythm and a gift for creating fresh, radiant metaphors. I’m reminded of how great dancers and acrobats must learn to move in a way that looks natural and effortless. Or, as Pope put it, ‘True ease in writing comes from art, not chance,/As those move easiest who have learned to dance.’ Like our best poets, Sarah McKinstry Brown has learned.” -William Trowbridge, author of Ship of Fool

“Heaven, the black keys on a grand piano! This collection pits tension between reality and desire, cultivating a world rich with lived imagination. In Sarah McKinstry-Brown’s grasp, language tackles the world of marriage, pregnancies and family with a complex love capable of cradling frustrations and grief with a patience that can ride through any monsoons and still trust there will be air to breathe soon enough.” -Lisa Gill, author of Mortar & Pestle and The Relenting

Read a review at Gently Read Literature

Read the spread at UNO Gateway (full interview here)

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A spoken word CD recorded by Debo at Big Rock Studios in Albuquerque, NM. Mixed by Debo and John Sandlin. Produced by Danny Solis. Music by John Sandlin.

1. You Are Dangerous
2. 1001 Loads of Laundry
3. Dear Frida
4. Our Love is an Opera
5. Dropping Hints
6. In the 6th Month
7. Transplant
8. When You Are Born

 $12.50 delivered

When You Are Born

A chapbook published by Blue Light Press

“Sarah McKinstry-Brown’s poems combine the exuberance of the poetry slam scene with beautifully crafted language. Her poems are powerful and real…

‘a night-time phone line broken in a Nebraska storm,/static conversations all the way down the line/from cerebellum to bottom of your womb.’

These are poems that bless her mother’s laundry, honor the gritty details of life, reveal the mystery of birth—language that is full of life, poems that stay with you.” -Diane Frank, author of Blackberries in the Dream House

When You Are Born soars.  Sarah McKinstry-Brown gives the reader a ‘flock of syllables’ with a range rivaling any migratory birds.  The trajectory of this book goes unflinchingly from death and metaphorical deaths to a passionate, and compassionate, commitment to life…” -Lisa Gill, Author of Red as a Lotus

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Anthologies Featuring Sarah’s Poetry



Download Sara’s Poetry Recordings at


Read She Magazine’s interview of Sarah (PDF)


Watch Sarah’s Reading at the Ames Reading Series