American Radiance, University of Nebraska Press



Winner of the Prairie Schooner Book Prize in Poetry, American Radiance, at turns funny, tragic, and haunting, reflects on the author’s experience immigrating as a child to the United States from Ukraine in 1991. 

What does it mean to be an American? Luisa Muradyan doesn’t try to provide an answer. Instead, the poems in American Radiance look for a home in history, folklore, misery, laughter, language, and Prince’s outstretched hand. Colliding with the grand figures of late ’80s and early ’90s pop culture, Muradyan’s imagination pushes the reader forward, confronting the painful loss of identity that assimilation brings.

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Praise for American Radiance:

“Luisa Muradyan’s playful, fresh, and tender debut collection shows how a brand-new poetry can be made from many different existing sources. . . . Arnold Schwarzenegger, the Talmud, Madame Bovary, Jalal ad-Din Rumi, and the lives of her Russian Ukrainian ancestors. . . . And we feel included too, as she constructs her innovative highways between inner and outer worlds. This is the real stuff of poetry: spontaneous, original, compassionate, and provocative—who knows, maybe the glow of her poems does testify to the stubborn persistence of an American radiance!”—Tony Hoagland, author of Priest Turned Therapist Treats Fear of God

(Tony Hoagland 2018-03-03)

“At once historical, personal, tender, enraged, and aroused, Luisa Muradyan has arrived precisely on time in American poetry. These poems are alive, ecstatic in the earthiest divine sense, lucid where humor blurs with grief, precise when weeping breaks into song. Her force is the force of love, and her voice is unforgettable.”—Kathleen Peirce, author of Vault?

(Kathleen Peirce 2018-03-03)

“Odessa, lost city of a lost childhood. America, lost country of the now (as promised by Bruce Willis). American Radiance is about searching, and Luisa Muradyan realizes that this is what it is to pray, to allow the search to reveal an invisible world.”—Nick Flynn, author of My Feelings

(Nick Flynn 2018-04-03)


"In her vibrant debut, the Odessa of Luisa Muryadan Tannahill’s childhood is magically wedded to an America, brash and colorful as crazyquilt. These poems, brimming with wild, fanciful juxtapositions, with juicy pop allusions and joyous praise for the overlooked or the mundane, bring the wizardry of Chagall to mind, but the specter of exile, memory, and holocaust also emerge as dark threads woven into the writer’s alert and wondrous world vision. I salute this intrepid new poet’s up-to-the-minute friskiness, unfettered eroticism (“My breasts are like Aristotle and Plato / They never see eye to eye”), and quick-witted candor that make American Radiance, in all its gorgeous irreverence and reach, such an exhilarating read.

(Cyrus Cassells 2018-04-12)

“Through generous associative leaps, Muradyan turns a narrative of assimilation into a debut collection that is as playful as it is wrenching.”

(Publisher’s Weekly Review)

“Muradyan’s poems are not only concise, but funny, drawing on a plethora of figures (Prince, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bruce Willis, Macho Man Randy Savage) that guide us through moments that are nostalgic, bittersweet, and at times utterly heartbreaking. Muradyan’s juxtapositions are clever and surprising, and with poems like “We Were Cosmonauts” (which narrates the speaker’s journey from Moscow to the U.S., while drawing comparisons to a game of Tetris), we see her poetic range, and see how moving a collection can be when it combines humor, history, folklore, and experiences so many can relate to.”

(Review by Esteban Rodriguez in PANK)

“littered with genuinely brilliant poems. They could lure disenchanted rationalists back to poetry. They might ignite a new movement in a culture. They are wonderful.”

(Review by Annette Lapointe in New York Journal of Books)