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About Morpho Didius

Morpho Didius is an extraordinary collection of palindromic poetry, where each piece is a linguistic marvel, reading the same forwards and backwards. The title of the book draws inspiration for transformation and reflects the mirrored language inside of each palindrome.


Central to this collection is the personal journey of the poet who has used palindromic form as a path to liberation from a traumatic childhood event—entrapment by an adult stranger. In a paradox of constrained writing, Kotok finds liberation, crafting each palindrome as a step towards emotional and psychological freedom. 


The themes of the poems are vast and intimate, covering personal and historical survival, feminism, sex, hope, abundant joy, and healing. These poems surpass linguistic acrobatics; they are an offering of transformation, an alchemizing of pain through the healing power of art.

What Readers Are Saying

Powerful, courageous, impressive.

Where to begin?

I suppose I'll start with the technical feat that is this book. The way Kotok is able to create moving poetry that reads forwards the same as it does backwards is truly mind boggling. Her linguistic talents are beyond impressive. And it's not just the technicality of these poems that stunned me. Kotok's poems convey meaning, pain, triumph, and, really, the full spectrum of what it's like to be alive, both the tragic and the blessed[ . . . ]. If you are considering buying Rachel Kotok's Morpho Didius, do it. It is a beautiful collection and the world is a better place now that it exists for all to read.


Advanced Praise for Morpho Didius

"Reading Morpho Didius was like finding the linguistic magic of words as they dance forward and backward, revealing hidden meanings and stories waiting to be decoded. It truly takes the reader on a poetic journey through the looking glass, where words morph into intricate and mysterious patterns of sense and sound."

-Maggie Sokolik, Ph.D., Director of College Writing Programs at UC Berkeley


"As a child, adolescent, and adult psychiatrist, I have treated many survivors of childhood trauma. Kotok embarked on a journey of healing her trauma by writing palindromic poetry. She sought to counter the terrible violation, the 'slain Eden' that she experienced as a child. Each poem is a cocoon, embraced on all sides with linguistic security. The reader bears witness to the raw language of fear and anger whilst marveling at the innovative symmetry of her writing. She brilliantly crafts a story of resilience, one mirrored letter at a time. Survivors will certainly find solace in the creative wonder of these poems, recognizing the healing and hope that ultimately emerge."  

-Regan R. Stanger, M.D., Child, Adolescent, & Adult Psychiatrist


"Morpho Didius catalyzes the kind of defamiliarization of language that encourages the reader to examine the worlds in and around them with new process—to see, feel, and engage more deeply through reconstruction. This inventive collection is wholly absorbing in the most intricate ways and harnesses palindromic form to create new space—like ether crocheted into a lace bird and sent to fly."

-Liz Baxmeyer, Author of Root & Bone; Lecturer of Humanities at California Northstate University and the College of Health Sciences


"If the letters are the matter and the mirror the form, we as readers get to participate in creation. We enter these palindromic universes and continue the opus of our very existence as humans on this planet—to make meaning. Though making meaning is automatic to us, when trauma is one of the materials used, the work is complex, nonlinear, not time bound, and I dare say, spiritual—like these neurological mazes you will encounter. The act and each creation is fascinating, enthralling, at times bewildering and moment-freezing, awe-inspiring, and like in life, you don’t walk away certain. When you return, you see, hear, notice, and infer something you did not before. This is how we evolve." 

-Maria J. Fellows, M.A., LMFT

About the Author 

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Addicted to constrained writing, Kotok writes letter-sequenced palindromic poetry, microfiction, flash, and fiction. She was a finalist for Southwest Review’s Morton Marr Poetry Prize and the Tucson Festival of Books Literary Award for Poetry. Her work has appeared in Tiferet Journal, Star 82 Review, Hey I’m Alive Magazine, The Centifictionist, Wend Poetry, Digital Paper and elsewhere.

Rachel Prizant Kotok

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