Faulkner's Rosary

Sarah Vap, Saturnalia (UPNE, dist.), $14 trade paper (88p) ISBN 978-0-9818591-6-3
Pregnancy, motherhood, children, sex, and majestic rural or wild landscapes find raw illumination in Vap's often exciting third collection. Moments of joy in nature or in sex rip through her sometimes ragged free verse lines, while bodily danger and metaphysical dread stay close behind. "Self-Portrait as a Butter-Churner" turns farm life into a lush erotic trope: "mouthfuls at the crank of the barrel churn, of sweet cream/ before the butter arrives"" Another page, though, shows a literal wolf at the door, a "bull-trout" caught by hand, and "children's drowning-stories each spring—snow/ from the mountains into the drainage creek. A quarrel/ with life—certain lives do that." For all its interest in the fears and the ecstasies of adults, though, Vap's work shines most beside babies, or babies-to-be: a fetus is a "saint-star, itching-pea" whose "ears drop between my hip-points./ My belly is a blood-vessel filigree." The poet pays homage to her own mother as she portrays herself in a similar role—and yet she does so in a thoroughly up-to-date, sometimes fragmentary, even bizarre way. Even the book's religious overtones are never merely traditional: at her best (especially late in this short book) Vap shows family life made new. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 01/17/2011
Release date: 10/01/2010
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