The Anxiety Workbook

Keats tells us that ‘poetry should surprise by a fine excess,’ which is to say that Keats might be a little jealous of Christina Olson’s The Anxiety Workbook. Her work always surprises, either by way of humor or confession or observation or reflection or lyricism—sometimes all in the same poem. Few poets could make the Venn diagram of personal anxiety, a deep interest in mastodons, COVID pandemic anxiety, adulting, body image concerns, and Caddyshack feel inevitable, but by some miracle, Olson is able to achieve the nearly impossible. Her voice is a mixture of knowing and not-knowing, humor and grave seriousness. It feels smart and timely. This is a fantastic book.
Dean Rader, NBCC Balakian Award finalist for excellence in reviewing

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The Anxiety Workbook explores contemporary anxiety, grief in its multitude of forms, and complicated familial dynamics via the lens of science and history while utilizing the language of therapy. These poems grapple with the ever-evolving collective and individual trauma of the COVID-19 pandemic as well as seek answers and lessons from the natural world. The termination of a pregnancy, a distant father, the untimely death of a friend, our society’s obsession with Dateline and missing white girls, the estivation of the West African lungfish—The Anxiety Workbook covers these topics and much more in poems ranging from the hypernarrative to the highly lyrical, rich in voice and description.

Wisteria sinensis

The purple of early bruise. The slow
strangle of climb toward chimney or sky,

something we humans cannot
or will not see. The grape-clusters of bloom

don’t last long, though of course
you should expect this, the root

right in the name: wistful. Now flowers
shower down like your grief: violet and sudden.

132 Pages, 6 x 8 in.

January, 2023

isbn : 9780822967033


about the author

Christina Olson

Christina Olson is the author of Terminal Human Velocity and The Last Mastodon, which won the Rattle 2019 Chapbook Contest. Other work appears in the Atlantic, the Missouri Review, the Nation, Scientific American, Virginia Quarterly Review, and The Best Creative Nonfiction. She is an associate professor at Georgia Southern University and tweets about coneys and mastodons as @olsonquest. Her website is

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Christina Olson