Sasha Debevec-McKenney


Sasha Debevec-McKenney is a poet, restaurant worker, and aspiring American presidential historian. She was born and raised in Hartford, Connecticut, and her first foray into poetry as a teenager was, fittingly, composing love poems for POTUSes past and present. She graduated from Beloit College in Rock County, Wisconsin, in 2013 and then earned her Master of Fine Arts from New York University, where she was the 2018 Rona Jaffe Fellow. Debevec-McKenney then returned to the Midwest to serve as the 2020-2021 Jay C. and Ruth Halls Poetry Fellow at the University of Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing. In December 2021, she was engaged as the artist-in-residence at the cooperative work environment StartingBlock Madison in partnership with local creative commission Dane Arts, making the city of Madison the base for her effort to transition from poetry to nonfiction writing in the future. Debevec-McKenney’s work has appeared in The Yale Review, TriQuarterly, and the New Yorker, where her poem “Kaepernick” was published in November 2021. She also recently edited and contributed to That’s So Me: Self-ish Mix, the second installment of a zine of poetry, prose, and visual art produced by Peach Mag. Her work draws on various aspects of her own life, riffing with honesty and humor on everything from her experience as a Black woman living in the Midwest to her musings on food and relationships. She enjoys working in restaurants as a sure way of intimately engaging with and observing others, and finds the myriad quick interactions inspirational for her writing. Debevec-McKenney lives and works in Madison, Wisconsin.


A prison is the only place that’s a prison.

Maybe your brain is a beehive—or, better:

an ants nest? A spin class?

The sand stuck in an hourglass? Your brain is like

stop it. So you practice driving with your knees,

you get all the way out to the complex of Little 

League fields,

you get chicken fingers with four kinds of mustard—

spicy, whole grain, Dijon, yellow—

you walk from field to field, you watch yourself

play every position, you circle each identical game,

each predictable outcome. On one field you catch.

On one field you pitch. You are center field. You are 


Sometimes you have steady hands and French braids.

Sometimes you slide too hard into second on purpose.

It feels as good to get the bloody knee as it does to 

kick yourself in the shin.

You wait for the bottom of the ninth to lay your 

blanket out in the sun.

Admit it, Sasha, the sun helps. Today,

the red team hits the home run. Red floods every 


A wasp lands on your thigh. You know this feeling.





Literary Movements:


Anthology Years:



Body & Body Image

Mental Health

Music & Sports

Literary Devices:


a figure of speech in which words repeat at the beginning of successive clauses, phrases, or sentences


a break between words within a metrical foot


a comparison between two unrelated things through a shared characteristic