Viability

Sarah Vap. Penguin, $22 trade paper (176p) ISBN 978-0-14-312828-1
In her sixth collection, a National Poetry series winner as selected by Mary Jo Bang, Vap (End of The Sentimental Journey) innovatively mediates language of the body—membranes, tonsils, embryos, and blood—through prose poems in an imaginative structure based on the rhizome. Operating in the shadow of capitalism, Vap pulls jargon from the Thai fishing industry, the history of American slavery, and the finance world, among other sources, mixing it with lyric lines about motherhood and fake quotations from John of the Cross. The tension, connection, and contrast among the diverse vocabularies thread this dynamic and playful collection together. The Global Financial Centres Index figures prominently as a metaphorical figure, with Vap poking fun at spectacular capitalism via the “Lindsay Lohan Stock Index” and such other items as Keynesian animal spirits and the bikini. It is through this style of ongoing juxtaposition that she questions capitalism’s power, and it is particularly noticeable in her women-centered humor: “Put hairspray into the lungs of the rate. Where there is no love, put lipstick on abstract animals.” By the end of her rigorous and elastic exploration, Vap asserts and asks: “The rhizome we need is inhuman... Index, is this who you are. Is this what you are pointing us toward.” Vap points readers toward a different index, asking them to imagine another possible world. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 01/18/2016
Release date: 09/29/2015
Genre: Fiction
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