Essay Press, February 2024. Now Available!
Essay Press Book Prize Winner, judged by Ronaldo Wilson
Designed as a turn of the century women’s magazine that combines memoir, history, theory, poetry, and image, Feathers: A Bird-Hat Wearer’s Journal explores women’s complex relationship with birds through the history of feather fashion. Originating in the bird-hat controversy of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, which coincided with both the women’s suffrage and budding American conservation movements, this polyvocal book moves in multiple directions as it examines cases of women and birds from across cultures and time periods, from the Virgin Mary, to Leda, Swan Lake, and Alexander McQueen. As its connective thread, Feathers also follows one woman’s enculturation into the world of bird-women and its inherent violence. What might we learn about gender from the birds?
“If I didn’t know any better, I would promise you this book was found in a tree hollow written by birds on the feathers of their dead, and bound with threads from forgotten dresses. Stunningly original and edging on mischief, Feathers: A Bird-Hat Wearer’s Journal undoes the myth of beauty and finds at its center a seed from which monsters might grow. Sarah Rose Nordgren has reimagined the book form to give it a thrilling new purpose.”
—Sabrina Orah Mark