Publication Date:  July 1, 2018
Paperback, 48 pages
ISBN:  978-1-937968-44-1
Booksellers:  Available from
Small Press Distribution
Missy Brownson resides in Georgetown,
Kentucky, and works in the capital city of
Frankfort as a communications professional.
Before moving to the Bluegrass region, Missy
served as co-producer and co-emcee of the
Third Tuesday Writers Coffeehouse in
Owensboro, Kentucky. Her work has
appeared in
The Lumberyard Magazine, The
Louisville Review
, Open 24 Hours, and The
Heartland Review
, where her work was
awarded “finalist” and “honorable mention”
designations for the 2010 Joy Bale Boone
Poetry Prize. Her work has also been  
distributed via the email poetry service of,
Every Day Poems.
Missy lives with her good husband and some
bad cats.  

Find out more at
In this accomplished and sure first collection, poet Missy Brownson revisits the
venerable genre of domestic advice manuals, those 19th and 20th century compendia
of wisdom designed to guide women (especially aspiring women of the rising middle
class) in the exercise of their proper roles in the home and society. Her response is a
wicked and witty rejoinder from the perspective of a contemporary woman navigating
the changing and challenging terrain of gender expectations and sexual politics and

The contrast can be hilarious, as in the poem “On Buying Produce”, where a snippet
of Victorian era advice on “the ripeness of Fruits” prefaces an encounter with a
former lover in the grocery, “a man / that was once a boy / whose hands memorized
my body / in borrowed beds.”

       I hold the avocado over his palm,
       release its weight,
       fill his fingers with
       ever-softening flesh.

But there is a seriousness to this venture, especially in the poems in the concluding
section, “Good Daughter Wants”:

       A daddy that can stand up.
       A mother that won’t walk away.
       . . .

       To bend at the waist
       without breaking.

There is just a hint of nostalgic regret here, that there are no guides, no easy advice,
for this most essential woman's work of finding her way in the world,

       . . . to free that girl,
       the one
       least expected but
       most likely to.

Praise for Missy Brownson & Hush Candy:

Good poems are rarely made by good girls. That’s not talk for polite company, but go
ahead, try to deny it, especially when you witness Missy Brownson tear out of the
gate with these first poems, each one hell-bent, either sticky with the spittle and grit
of childhood or else hot to the touch, spoken by a woman full-grown who—seeing her
world undone—stands tall and says,
I’m done. Here you have a poet who takes sharp
scissors to etiquette manuals and advice columns for ladies; here you have a new kind
of Kentucky rising, a voice that instead of hollering blows a kiss, but the kind of kiss
with a hiss, a sound that might just be a mouth red and crackling with Pop Rocks—
literally, with
Hush Candy—or as her poem says, “a secret to keep behind the teeth.”
Exquisitely distilled, each of Brownson’s poems is a strong shot, something to down
quickly to feel that delightful, dizzying rush.

                        —Nickole Brown, author of Sister and Fanny Says

Hush, Candy
is a marvelous collection, full of fun, sass, and splendid rebellion. I
certainly recognize the times past when, in Missy Bronson’s moving words, I’ve been
called to “slip into the tight skin of the person you give the world,” and thus I’m made
all the merrier when these poems prod me to flee the bonds of propriety.

                          —Kathleen Driskell, author of Blue Etiquette

Hush Candy
brings us a gasping fish, a sexy encounter with an avocado, Pop Rocks,
“a tongue crackling,” fingers “sticky with rosin,” legs in a “lingering vibrato,” and a
speaker who longs for “gold stars to fill/the blue-lined horizon” as she learns “to bend
at the waist/without breaking.”  But what is most enchanting is, as Eliot wrote, the
experience of reading “with your ear.” We are greeted with sounds like the “silent
ma ma ma,” the “thrum of…grilled grips,” “hoodlum heroes on ten-speed steeds,”
and “meat neat and tamed on tines.” This is a heartbreaking collection of a Southern
woman trying to find her way while navigating the expectations of a ‘well behaved’
woman. The book succeeds in being, also, hopeful. We are left with a strong voice
finding its way within an elegant lyricism. This is a gorgeous first collection for Missy
Brownson—one I will recommend often.

                      —Kelly Moffett, author of Waiting for a Warm Body to Fill It

The most original and, to me, satisfying move Missy Brownson makes in Hush Candy
is the interplay between excerpted instructions (used as epigraph) from a 19th-century
etiquette book and the contemporary turn the poem takes based on this fusty advice.
There are some strong and memorable poems you’ll want to return to often in this
wonderful debut.

                                   —Jeff Worley, author of A Little Luck &
                        Driving Late to the Party: Kansas Poems
Hush Candy
A poetry chapbook by
Cover artwork & design by Jeremy Wooldridge