For The Compost by Stu Nolan

Winner of the 2022 Flume Press Chapbook Contest

A collection of seventeen verdant poems, Stu Nolan’s For the Compost graces readers with naturalistic imagery and deeply personal vulnerabilities. Nolan yearns for transcendence from physicality, and asks us to consider, “When / was the last time you were / your whole self?” With rapturous diction, Nolan’s collection blurs the binaries of machine and flesh, while holding the scalpel that separates them. 

From our contest judge, José Antonio Rodríguez: “How do you language a self into being?” asks the speaker of these poems early on and then offers the reader a courageous attempt suffused with grace. This collection, an investigation of queer identity, looks to the ever-evolving quality of the natural world as an evocative metaphor. Rich with imagery and sound, its pensive and probing voice questions the relationship between the corporeal self and identity, seeking metamorphosis and investigating its parameters. The body or, as the poet calls it here, “borrowed atoms,” dances at the center of this lovely collection.

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Stu Nolan is a queer writer and aspiring documentary filmmaker based in the mountain buttes and basin brine of Salt Lake City. They have a love for growing things, going on tangents, and exchanging stories with with strangers. Their work has been published in Scribendi, GirlsRightTheWorld, Arcturus Magazine, Leopardskin&Limes, and by Torrey House Press. They are working on starting a podcast and dream of being in a punk band. For the Compost is Nolan’s first published chapbook.


When the world is wintering,
I fanaticize my own hibernation
set in some lovingly dug hole or hollow
in some loam soil lined
with sawdust, leaf litter,
and moss to gently molt me.
A space to stay for some time
until I’ve learned or slept,
how to slink out of it,
how to shed my fastenings,
how to unbecome.
No mortal test but to burrow
and rest, bury and nest away.
My lungs could stack like rubber stamps
to keep my ribs from rattling
when the earth splits open and shakes
every living thing back awake.