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APSU alumna Licciardi releases debut book of poetry, “Skin Splitting”

Skin Splitting bookCLARKSVILLE, Tenn. — Bryanna Licciardi, a 2011 Austin Peay State University alumna, once went on a boring date with infamous serial killer John Wayne Gacy.

“Towards the end of my Master of Fine Arts program in Boston, I fell asleep one night watching a documentary about (Gacy),” Licciardi said. “Not your typical bedtime story, I know, but I have a horror hobby.

“Anyway, this turned out to be a great idea, because I dreamt Gacy and I went out on a boring date, which I thought would make for a funny poem.”

That rather unique inspiration led to a rather unique poem, which led to the spark that fueled Licciardi’s debut poetry book, titled “Skin Splitting” and set to release in August through award-winning small press publisher, Finishing Line Press.

Licciardi said her poem about a fictional date with a very real killer came to mind quickly — almost as quickly as it drew surprised reactions from the people she read to at a poetry workshop she frequented. It was that reaction, Licciardi said, that led to what would become a fleshed-out series of poetry.

“What was surprising to me was how the people I (read to) reacted — shock, discomfort and uncertainty,” Licciardi said. “As someone who has always enjoyed making people uncomfortable, I knew that I had found something worth delving into.”

“Skin Splitting” includes what Licciardi has dubbed the “serial killer series,” works using infamous names including Gacy and Jeffrey Dahmer as vehicles to explore the horror in the mundane aspects of every-day life. Other poems in the collection aim to dissect the dangerous expectations placed on women in modern society.

No matter the topic, Licciardi’s wit and dual gifts of perspective and introspection allow her to explore the human experience in her writing. What do we want? What do we need? Is it safe to be ourselves? As a collection of poetry, “Skin Splitting” uses any number of approaches to elicit a reaction from the reader.

“As a writer, I've found that people learn best when they're laughing, or when they're nervous, and this collection hopes to do both,” Licciardi said.

An alumna of Austin Peay with a Bachelor of Arts in English, Licciardi is also a former editor-in-chief of Red Mud Review, the University’s student-organized literary magazine. Licciardi received her Master of Fine Arts in poetry from Emerson College in 2014. Currently, she is pursuing a Ph.D. in literary studies from Middle Tennessee State University.

A 2016 Pushcart Prize nominee, Licciardi has seen her work appear in journals including Poetry Quarterly, BlazeVOZ, 491 Magazine, Adirondack Review and Cleaver Magazine.

For more information on “Skin Splitting,” including information on how to purchase a copy, visit www.finishinglinepress.com. For more information on Licciardi, visit www.bryannalicciardi.com.