“The poems in Into These Knots are graceful and powerful in equal measure – beautifully written raids on the inarticulate from a clear-eyed poet probing the beginnings of song in the unsayable. The beautiful balance extends throughout poems; the emotional resonances of every thought are weighed carefully and every emotion is fully thought through. Love may be, as Ashley Anna McHugh tells us, ‘a rust-worn boat,’ but with her (and thrilled to be along for the ride), ‘We thread / A slow wake through the water – then silently / We start to row, and will for as long as this lasts.”

Andrew Hudgins

“The complexities of the relationships and ideas in Into These Knots are served well by the precision and ingenuity of McHugh’s formal techniques. This is an extraordinary debut marked by aesthetic and emotional effects achieved through formal mastery, and we can look forward eagerly to McHugh’s future books.”

Luke Hankins in Contemporary Poetry Review

“Into These Knots is a spiritual feast for the questing mind”

Alex Pepple, Editor of Able Muse

“Poems in Ashley Anna McHugh’s first book have a startling freshness and emotional pounce. […] McHugh pulls off a hard thing: she peels back layer after layer of a tense situation until the reader, implicated, flinches. The best poems are stripped down, gleaming raw wood.”

Beverly Bie Brahic in Poetry

“Touching and complex, ‘Cairns’ reveals McHugh at her best: a pained psychological matrix and an often-innovative use of form. [… Into These Knots] feels honest, gracefully shaped, and true to human emotional complexity.”

Benjamin S. Grossberg in Antioch Review

“It is impossible here to fully describe the powerful intertwining of trails taken and not taken, choices and their repercussions, that McHugh binds together in this series [“Cairns”]; nevertheless it is possible to recommend reading the collection again and again.

Into These Knots is a remarkable book, even more remarkable because it is Ashley Anna McHugh’s first full-length volume. It should put to rest any lingering question of whether formal poetry is adequate to express contemporary thought and emotion.”

Jeanetta Calhoun Mish in World Literature Today