PA LitFest Countdown: Stephanie Wytovich


Right on the heels of becoming a Stoker Award finalist with her debut poetry collection HYSTERIA, Stephanie M. Wytovich launches her sophomore book this week at the Pennsylvania Literary Festival! First and foremost will be a televised feature about Mourning Jewelry on Friday from 6-7 p.m., followed Saturday with her participation at 2:30 in the Today’s Poets panel. To learn more about Stephanie and her poetry read this recent interview conducted by Patrick Stutzman at

About the Book

The tradition of Victorian mourning jewelry began with Queen Victoria after the death of her husband, Prince Albert. Without photography, mementos of personal remembrance were used to honor the dead so that their loved ones could commemorate their memory and keep their spirits close. Ashes were placed within rings, and necklaces were made out of hair, and the concept of death photography, small portraitures of the deceased, were often encased behind glass. Mourning jewelry became a fashion statement as much as a way to cope with grief, and as their pain evolved over the years, so did their jewelry.

But what about the sadness and the memories that they kept close to them at all times? The death-day visions and the reoccurring nightmares? Wytovich explores the horror that breeds inside of the lockets, the quiet terror that hides in the center of the rings. Her collection shows that mourning isn’t a temporary state of being, but rather a permanent sickness, an encompassing disease. Her women are alive and dead, lovers and ghosts. They live in worlds that we cannot see, but that we can feel at midnight, that we can explore at three a.m.

Wytovich shows us that there are hearts to shadows and pulses beneath the grave. To her, Mourning Jewelry isn’t something that you wear around your neck. It’s not fashion or a trend.  It’s something that you carry inside of you, something that no matter how much it screams, that you can just can’t seem to let out.

“From rimming the martini glass with a dead lover’s ashes, to bedsheets as straightjackets, Stephanie Wytovich masterminds the lustful grotesque. But there is a sweetness in the violence, comfort in the pretty terror. Feathers as amputated limbs, spirit carriages, and valleys that hold the tears of little girls. This collection caresses beneath the skin–like a fine lace shawl delicately woven with her own blood.”
-Jill Tracey, songwriter of of Dexter Season 7 theme

“A bountiful, bold book, generously serving up more than 100 poems, each distinctive in its careful-yet-brutal musing about death and desire, written with a voice that is not firmly established as one of our top new horror poets…..Even the Grim Reaper himself would drop his jaw reading some of these beautifully decadent poems. It’s a remarkable achievement.”
-Michael Arnzen, Bram Stoker Award-wining poet and author of Grave Markings.