Poetry Chapbook

The Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death

LIMITED EDITION—assembled and debossed by hand, by the master craftspeople at Spork Press, in Tucson, Arizona. 

A note by the poet, Elizabeth Metzger, regarding the collection:

“This sequence of poems responds to the work of Frances Glessner Lee, the domestic diorama artist who radically changed the study of forensics and founded Harvard’s Department of Legal Medicine in 1931. In the wake of war and dramatic material innovations, Lee made miniatures of domestic death that continue to inform the way we study murder and the relationship between gender and death. She was the first woman to become a member of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences and the first woman to join the International Association of Chief of Police in the United States. Eighteen of the poems in this series correspond to Lee’s eighteen Nutshell Studies—some are spoken by Lee, some by the dolls themselves. As the series evolves, Lee projects and confuses her perspective with the murdered. The voices multiply. The six poems on the right margin explore the inventions and material culture of the 30s-50s that may have given rise to Lee’s urgent and disturbing obsession. The final poem, The Swedish Porch, corresponds to the miniature Lee built after completing the Nutshells, a study of her own home. Lee died in the process of making this last diorama; it is equally meticulous, but of course, unfinished. For all their precision, each of Lee’s dioramas invites the observer—or “investigator”—to complete them.”