Pray, Pray, Pray: Poems I wrote to Prince in the middle of the night


by E. Kristin Anderson

Pray, Pray, Pray is an epistolary anthem penned to, and inspired by, Prince. These middle-of-the-night stanzas are intimate, vulnerable and fierce—”your guitar runs straight through me; I worry that I am a specter,” and “America is violent. And I am a patriot, stomping the ground every day.” These pages are at once love letter, battle cry, and a question, a poem, a song. Follow these lines through and tell us “which lines are critical? If I close this box, will you open it and see something in that empty air?” (Porkbelly Press, 2015)

28 pages
inkjet cover
open edition

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Your new voice can almost reconcile the temperature divide—
how my body sweats and outside cool breeze carries every whim
away.  My mind is an animal, American like you, down to the bone.

What is more American than art for the sake of art? More human
than love for the sake of love?  Dive into the words—here lies
fashion, here lies grace.  New voices bubble to the top and shout:

Here we are. Here we have always been.

Suck in the air.  This is where we live, where we twist.
Raise me up. Put your hand on my shoulder and say,
Yes.  Put your hand on my back and push.



E. Kristin Anderson is a Pushcart-nominated poet and author who grew up in Westbrook, Maine and is a graduate of Connecticut College. She has a fancy diploma that says “B.A. in Classics,” which makes her sound smart, but has not helped her get any jobs in Ancient Rome. Kristin is the co-editor of Dear Teen Me, an anthology based on the popular website and her YA memoir The Summer of Unraveling is forthcoming in 2017 from ELJ Publications. Her poetry has been published worldwide in many magazines and anthologies and she is the author of six chapbooks including A Guide for the Practical Abductee (Red Bird Chapbooks), Acoustic Battery Life (ELJ, 2016), Fire in the Sky (Greybook Press, 2016), and She Witnesses (dancing girl press, 2016). Kristin is an editor at NonBinary Review, helps make books at Lucky Bastard Press, and is a poetry editor at Found Poetry Review. Once upon a time, she worked at The New Yorker. She now lives in Austin, TX where she works as a freelance editor and is trying to trick someone into publishing her full-length collection of erasure poems based on women’s and teen magazines. She blogs at and tweets at @ek_anderson. 



The cover is a custom drawing, digitally purpled. Nicci Mechler is the artist: @wickedlittleheart on IG.



“It is the most American autumn evening turning to night in E. Kristin Anderson’s spectacular Pray, Pray, Pray. The speaker can’t sleep, but implores the reader to ‘Put your hand on my back and push.’ Comply and crack the spine for these epistolary anthems to love and insomnia. While the poet masterfully assembles the false syllogisms of our contemporary lives, she knows some things are true. For example, ‘Poems do not lie.’ I first met E. Kristin in Minneapolis, at an ethereal dance party celebrating Prince. After reading Pray, Pray, Pray, I imagine her always there, her ‘mind…an animal, American…down to the bone.’ Anderson is ‘The Kid,’ but fresh and female, now dancing and singing under the purple rain by some ‘halogen miracle.’ Let us all join in her praise.”

— Sandra Marchetti, author of Confluence and Heart Radicals

“E. Kristin Anderson’s poems are intimate, brave and driven by a powerful search for calm and security in a world that fails us so often. PRAY, PRAY, PRAY chooses the musician Prince as its muse and—like that musical genius—these poems are equally adept at navigating both the high and low notes of the complex, full life they describe. The voice of the poems is at once exultant and fraught, bringing readers deeply into our America, a country in which ‘there is only beauty and emptiness,’ and anxiety and depression are a ‘dark secret,’ but a pop icon can be ‘an old friend’ or even a savior. These are wonderful, truthful poems. You should read them immediately.” 

—Jessica Piazza, author of Interrobang and This is not a sky



The Booth Blog – The Hits and B-Sides and Everything in Between: An Interview with E. Kristin Anderson
petite review of Pray, Pray, Pray in tweetspeak (Glynn Young)

November 2015: Speaking of Marvels : E. Kristen Anderson



“Anchored in small town beauty and city heat” nominated for a Pushcart in 2015



17 seventeen XVII (Grey Book Press, 2017)
We're Doing Witchcraft (Hermeneutic Chaos Press, 2016)
Acoustic Battery Life (ELJ Publications, January 2016)
Fire in the Sky (Grey Book Press, Winter 2016)
She Witnesses (dancing girl press & studio, May 2016)
17 Days (ELJ Magpies, November 2015)
A Guide for the Practical Abductee (Red Bird Chapbooks, June 2014)