Synopses & Reviews
"Like the Oppen she takes as her epigraph, Sasha Steensen's is a poetry that feels magically made via both subtraction and building. With language as lush as Hopkins' and then as small and weird as Niedecker's, Steensen tells a story, or alights in and out of a story, all her own. It's an American story, too, with all the bloodiness and experiment that such a thing requires."Maggie Nelson
Sasha Steensen's third volume is a lyric inquiry into a personal history of the back-to-the-land idealism of the 1970s, with its promises and failings, naturalism gone awry, and journeys into the worlds of addiction, recovery, and, ultimately, family. "If family is a body, learn its anatomy," Steensen writes early in the book, immediately before upending all our expectations and giving us new thoughts to think.
The family bought a rural plot and planted a garden.
The family formed thoughts.
Within these thoughts, eggs hatched, animals were born, little wars formed. Each thought said unspeakable things to the other thoughts.
As you know, unspoken thoughts rot.
Sasha Steensen teaches poetry workshops, literature courses, letterpress printing, and bookmaking at Colorado State University. She is the author of The Method (2008) and A Magic Book (Alberta Prize, 2004), and chapbooks including A History of the Human Family (2010), The Future of an Illusion (2008), and correspondence (with Gordon Hadfield, 2004). Steensen is also co-editor of Bonfire Press, and she serves as one of the poetry editors for Colorado Review.
"Pitch-perfect in the iconography and angst that define growing up in the American Midwest, Steensen (The Method) leads a slow crawl through a family album of 1970s-era Ohio baby boomers, when 'more than a million hippies went back to the land.' Treating the corn belt like a cabinet of curiosities, Steensen dusts off a once carefree and careless America, when 'the strawberry social and the soapbox derby' went hand in hand with muscle cars and 'The Skylane Drive-Thru Liquor Store.' But it's not all roach clips and feathered hair. In this Midwestern gothic suffused with foreboding and a twinge of doom, Steensen invokes the ghost of Ohio native Hart Crane as a marker for the absurd and tragic. The most striking conflict arises between 'memory, an ember on a pile of dead leaves,' and the degree to which Steensen resists entering fully into her remembrance. The forced compound words that define the book's title sequence many of which, like 'messofwheat' and 'fullofcoon,' are as delightful, messy, and frustrating as memory itself deepen the sense that Steensen is trying to both rush through her memory and retrieve it from a welter. Though occasionally clumsy, Steensen's poems are fascinating in how they tackle stories 'the writer cannot tell.' (Apr.)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
A portrait in poems of the back-to-the-land movement of the '70s: the hippies and hicks, addictions and attempts at recovery.
About the Author
Sasha Steensen teaches poetry workshops, literature courses, letterpress printing, and bookmaking at Colorado State University. She is the author of The Method (Fence Books, 2008), A Magic Book, which won the Alberta Prize (Fence Books, 2004), A History of the Human Family (Flying Guillotine Press, 2010), The Future of an Illusion (Dos Press, 2008), and correspondence (with Gordon Hadfield, Handwritten Press, 2004). Her poetry has appeared in numerous journals, including Denver Quarterly, Aufgabe, Bombay Gin, Free Verse, Shearsman, Shiny, and La Petit Zine. Her essays and reviews have appeared in journals such as Boston Review, Chain, P-queue, and Interim. Steensen is also coeditor of Bonfire Press, and she serves as one of the poetry editors for Colorado Review.