The Hatchet and the Hammer

ISBN 978-1-938900-33-4

Publication date: Spring 2020
37 pages, 5” x 7”
Read Press Release (PDF)


The Hatchet and the Hammer is part long poem, part essay in fragments, about real and imagined violence. In this chapbook, the writer looks back at three intersecting traumas—the unraveling of a long-term relationship with a partner with a diagnosis of Harm OCD, the death of her father due to prolonged alcoholism, and a story she learns of how her grandfather once attacked her grandmother with a hammer. Here, the writer attempts to make meaning from trauma and interrogate her own role in these fractured relationships. The chapbook takes a layered, polyvocal approach by collaging lines from poets, medical research, and other found texts. At the heart of this project, driving it like an engine, is a central question—how do I know when I have the truth about myself?


“‘Doesn’t sickness require a period of wellness / to be measured against?’ Essential questions surrounding the body and sickness are the obsession of Caitlin Scarano’s speaker in this book, which is part-prose, part-poem, and wholly concerned with what circumstances of life are survivable. In a book-length narrative, hybridity becomes a thing of the self, of the world, of relationships, of the body living with disease. Rife with research, these conflicts are further demonstrated by fractured language and image on each page. But, ‘there is always a line’: what survives and what doesn’t. This book is a triumph of language and its uses. Of the ways experience can be translated. It pulls the reader into its grief chorus through the wonder of those living with sickness, through the conditions that make our lives (im)possible.”

– Chelsea Dingman


“In a deeply felt and carefully braided mix of personal history, poetic reference, and psychological research, The Hatchet and the Hammer is an intensely lyrical examination of violence—violence as old as the hills, and violence as new as the pharmaceuticals taken to counteract it. The work here is fearless, disturbing, haunting, honest. And, ultimately, redemptive. Scarano is a poet worthy of our full attention.”

– Daryl Farmer


Caitlin Scarano is a writer based in the North Cascades. She holds a PhD in English from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and an MFA in Poetry from the University of Alaska Fairbanks. Her debut collection of poems, Do Not Bring Him Water, was released in Fall 2017 by Write Bloody. Her work has appeared in GrantaBest New PoetsBest Small FictionsCarve, and Colorado Review. She teaches classes at the Loft Literary Center (online) and at and Hugo House (in-person). You can find her at


“Caitlin Scarano’s The Hatchet & the Hammer scorches” - The Broadkill Review

Review by Risa Denenberg - The Poetry Cafe

Review by Amy E Casey

  • Gold Line Press | Ricochet
  • USC PhD Creative Writing & Literature
  • 3501 Trousdale Pkwy, THH 431
  • Los Angeles, CA 90089-0354