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Histories of the Future Perfect

Inspired by concepts in astrophysics, Kombiyil canvasses across time and space to provide a luminescence unafraid of the big ideas. The book itself has what Kombiyil calls a quantum structure. Here we find Galileo’s thumbprint, Kurt Cobain Las Vegas, and Mary Lincoln communing with the dead. The poems themselves are never narrowly historical but rather cosmic in their inflections, taking on subatomic particles, DNA, and black holes, not simply as scientific props but as the very impetus for lyric motion.

“This is a poet who can toggle between bikinis and trilobites, between astrophysics and pop culture, between elegy and premonition. Kombiyil’s work is alive to whiplash our lives in the timeloops of the universe. ‘Let sprinklers equal X, an absence that is manifest./Now solve for bare feet glisten. Now step on constellations.’ This is a poetry of rigorous, ingenious, warmhearted exploration.”

—Maureen N. McLane,

National Book Critics Circle Finalist and National Book Award Finalist

My Poets and This Blue

“These are intellectually dexterous poems, but, more vitally, poems ‘laden and alive’ with unexpected illumination.” 

— Arundhathi Subramaniam, 

When God is a Traveller


“Ellen Kombiyil’s debut collection, Histories of the Future Perfect, contains one of the most marvelous lines of poetry I’ve read in quite a while:  ‘oh one one zero zero oh oh one.’ Unequivocating and precise as binary code, Kombiyil’s work hacks into the lyric itself, in poems of unsettling intelligence and emotional honesty. Like Wallace Stevens, this poet ‘delves past thought in search of/the anatomy of thought,’ but she always animates this anatomy with intimate feeling. From the boundaries of the universe to the nesting dolls of personal memory, Histories of the Future Perfect marks out a bold beginning for a voice of great talents.”


author of Facts for Visitors


avalanche tunnel:

The poems of this suite shed light on intimate moments, imagine lost pages, and meditate on the elusiveness of love and memory.  

This chapbook has been published in a limited print-run of 100 copies.

A Chapbook

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