The Fat Sonnets

Samantha Zighelboim. Argos, $16 trade paper (88p) ISBN 978-1-938247-30-9
Zighelboim recasts the sonnet in various ways as she queries the nature of embodiment and the realities of size-shaming in her vivid, exacting debut. The work challenges readers to reassess preconceived notions of form—both literary and human—and the judgments that often come in tandem. Zighelboim opens by depicting the body as the site of a haunting: “We offer you/ the thin ghosts/ we have kept/ in us all/ our tired years./ Release them.” A body is more than its literal mass, Zighelboim writes, likening it to a vault for psychological material in need of liberation. Throughout, she explores both the personal and social ramifications of inhabiting particular spaces. Two powerful poems counterpose each other to highlight the duality of the word fat. Zighelboim writes that “Being/ fat is often like being dead. Fat people are/ the most visible invisibles.” Yet in the subsequent poem this same state of being can also be an unexpected source of inner strength and resilience: “I have developed a powerful immunity/ to stares, cruelties, men on the bus moving/ over two whole seats to make room for me.” In her astute manipulations of language and line, Zighelboim finds new means to defy stifling social strictures. (June)
Reviewed on: 07/16/2018
Release date: 06/01/2018
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