Ugly Duckling Presse

Applies to Oranges
Applies to Oranges

Maureen Thorson

Poetry | $13 $11
Buy"a necessary satellite signal made of a uniquely singular ache and echo"

In Applies to Oranges, Maureen Thorson’s debut full-length collection of poems, oranges, spiders, tourists, and a Zenith television conspire to turn the conventions of narrative on its side. These poems fracture and refract narrative by crafting a story from seemingly absurd symbols whose recursive use defies coherence, but expand the imagination by gradually revealing an anachronistic, nostalgic, and cinematic world. The precision of these poems transforms a simple escapist fantasy into an internalized landscape that reveals both humor and sadness with successive repetition.

Excerpt ˇ


I'd rather tell you a better story, but

disease and boredom and a bad connection

brought that plan to night. You took off

with the oranges and spiders,

the ending and the plot, and left me

with the Zenith's chrome housing,

the cruise shits in their moorings. 

The tender tourists with their trinkets

and tight-fisted maps. The orphans

and beachheads, so lovelorn and solemn.

The satellites' red signals. The hotel's

common gestures. Once you were gone,

there were only these few things left.

Close ˆ

About the Author

Maureen Thorson

Maureen Thorson is a poet, publisher, and book designer living in Washington, D.C. She is the author of a number of chapbooks, including Twenty Questions for the Drunken Sailor (2009), Mayport (2006), which won the Poetry Society of America's National Chapbook Fellowship, and Novelty Act (Ugly Duckling Presse 2004). Her poems can be found in many anthologies and journals, including the forthcoming Yale Anthology of Younger American Poets, Exquisite Corpse, Hotel Amerika, LIT, The Hat, and 6x6. Maureen is the publisher and editor of Big Game Books, a small press dedicated to emerging poets. She is also the co-curator of the In Your Ear reading series at the DC Arts Center and the founder of NaPoWriMo, an annual project in which poets attempt to write a poem a day for the month of April. 

Advance Praise

Thorson is an orphaned Victorian trapped in a robot spider who wants badly to sell us madeleines woven of fake hypnotic oranges, but all time has converged in these lines, the astronavigation is cluttered with satellites, her suicidal flower arrangements can't be decoded, the 'signal / fail[s], decay[s] into ornament,' and real grief of lost love and the motion picture clips of it we project onto foreign scenery make us realize that 'the radio plays / different stations, and you have no radio.' The commerce of fictional, degenerating visual language and memory confuses us and comforts us as we—as Thorson—wrestle with its insidious, satisfying infestation of our individual and collective experience. This is wonderful, deeply, and superficially felt work.—Cathy Eisenhower
Maureen Thorson's first full-length book is a necessary satellite signal made of a uniquely singular ache and echo. She deftly performs a precise dissection of heartbreak's timeless ability to blow open the universe of our lives and allow our fascinating agonies to burst into being. Applies to Oranges is a collection that is, at once, a mythic tale of loss and a microscopic look into the delicate beauty of broken things. These wonderful poems demand that you linger in their haunting world, and as Thorson says, 'breathe slowly, if at all.'—Ada Limon
Maureen Thorson's narrator addresses a former love (who may as well be us) in a series of beautiful sonnetlike pieces that cohere in a sequence like shards in a mosaic—some bits darker, some brighter, each tight. “I want to diagram the light that shines out through the holes you pricked in me,” she says. “Instead, I retract into extravagant gestures, diaries, bonfires, the psycho gloss of wilted blossoms, dead-eyed stamens stitched in rows.” Thorson’s Applies to Oranges sings and surprises in both new and timeless ways, as love’s decay blooms gorgeously and is borne away by dissipating spiders.—Shanna Compton
Applies to Oranges accomplishes what the best lyric poetry sets out to do: it resists the temptations of resolution and closure. Instead it frees language to sing about the only sure thing, which is the heartache of our world’s impermanence.—NewPages
Thorson's first full-length combines the nuanced clarity of the traditional sonnet sequence with the programmatic experiment for which Ugly Duckling has become known.—Publisher’s Weekly
In this collection of fifty-nine untitled prose poems, nothing is wasted; indeed, it is the remains, what’s left over after the fruits of joy have been consumed or lost, that gives the work its vision.—BOMBLOG