top of page

Praise for Histories of the Future Perfect

“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

“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

In my practice, poems begin with an utterance, a stutter, a phrase, or a sound. Although careful consideration is given to line length, line breaks, and stanzas—the work that these do and how the poem appears on the page—the poems are sonic and nature and meant to be vocalized.


Much of my attention concentrates on both syllabic patterning and creating constellations of vowel sounds that are connected to the underlying emotional expression. For example, a proliferation of “oh” sounds signals a bemoaned revelation, a keening. Through this method I create a visceral poetics.

bottom of page