Amiss by Gina Ferrara


Gina Ferrara’s collection Amiss might be subtitled, “American Femicide”: these lyric poems are sympathetic, even intimate, elegies for, and apostrophes to, women killed or missing in every state in the Union, and our North American landscape (beautifully evoked), seems involved in their fates. Notice, for instance, how often the vaunted freedom of the road turns out to be something else for these passengers: women “driven in the direction / of what always goes wrong.” Notice, also, the details, as Ferrara chooses her images with the fierce attention of an angelic detective—a bright blue van, a bible, a deck of cards spilled from an abandoned purse—so that an earned and grounded empathy propels the clear voice, along with the desire for justice. In these quick and vivid poems Ferrara makes of grief an illuminating fire, from which the poet speaks of and to the missing and dead women with exemplary, tenderly respectful, imagination, memory, and knowledge. I have so much admiration for this poet’s courage—Ferrara has gone among the ghosts and faced the terror every woman in our violent homeland spends a significant portion of her life trying not to think about… —Laura Mullen


  • Kind: Perfectbound
  • Pages: 80
  • Language: English
  • Date Published: April, 2023
  • ISBN 978-1-953252-76-0


Gina Ferrara writes with an uncanny attention to color and light, evoking depths of emotion from minute sensory details. This, her signature technique, is employed with chilling effectiveness in this collection of elegies to 52 murdered women, one for each of our United States, plus two more, as if the grief expressed here would overflow any national or political container. And yet it is a sobering chronicle of a distinctly American epidemic of violence against women. This is a stunning book, reverent, powerful, immensely sad. —Bill Lavender

In this chilling collection of poems, Gina Ferrara pays homage to a long list of women who were murdered and “found beyond recognition” or simply disappeared, their stories reduced to the things they left behind, things that become more haunting than ghosts: keys, a poncho, a pillbox hat, a denim purse holding a pack of cards, a bra, a wig, a pizza petrifying in the box, an eighteen-month-old child. Each enigmatic poem in Amiss honors a life and refuses to accept that life’s vanishing. This is poetry of witness. Songs against forgetting. —Grace Bauer

Beloved New Orleans poet Gina Ferrara’s fifth collection, Amiss, is an important testament to the ubiquity of femicide and violence against women and girls in America from Florida’s “landscape that seeps into itself” to South Dakota’s “grass and cane, swollen cisterns and streams” to Alaska’s “snow solid as days in a decade.”  This lyric sequence honors victims by recovering quotidian details of their lives as well as overlooked traces from investigations into their murders and disappearances.  “Someone should bear witness/to those rainbows that vanish, losing their arc,” Ferrara writes.  Yes, and I am grateful for the uncompromising vision and conscience that imbues this book. —Carolyn Hembree


One July Day

A sheath of dirt dulling the mesh
screen door slamming, nearly unhinged,
in time to see edges of the sun,
the final dark arc of it visible, ablaze,
when her ride arrived, windows open
passing the river, black,
black river water irreversible,
an indelible underscore, a shooting arrow
hitting a target, the plaintive calls
could be heard, whip-poor-wills
and bob white quails
echoing, something rhetorical
in those notes, no answers to be given
on why she was leaving again,
her reasons horded in town after town.


Gina FerraraGina Ferrara lives and writes in New Orleans.  Her poetry collections include Ethereal Avalanche (Trembling Pillow Press, 2009), Amber Porch Light (Word Tech 2013), Fitting the Sixth Finger:  Poems Inspired by the Paintings of Marc Chagall (Kelsay Books 2017) and Weight of the Ripened (Dos Madres Press, 2020), a finalist for the Eyelands Poetry Prize.  Her work has appeared in numerous journals including Callaloo, The Poetry Ireland Review and Tar River Poetry and was selected for publication in the Sixty-Four Best Poets of 2019 by Black Mountain Press.  Since 2007, she has curated The Poetry Buffet, a monthly reading series in New Orleans.  She is an Elizabeth George fellow who teaches English and writing at Delgado Community College and is the editor of the New Orleans Poetry Journal Press.

Additional information

Weight 5.6 oz
Dimensions 9 × 6 × .25 in