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Hooked Through studies violence—of suicide, of nature, of our “possum heart,” of our “last days.” Anything can destroy, deconstruct, or devour the body—teeth, tongues, bullets, bugs, the sun—and the body grows, hatches, disappears and transforms into jerking flesh on a hook or fingers into stems or a spine into a tree or bones into “a single word.” And yet the speaker, while forcibly fragmented, survives and is able to discern the smallest beauty like the outline of a wing, birds leaving an “empty chest,” a pretty “sliver of sky” that can be fed on. When I read Sara Moore Wagner’s poetry, I am forced to re-examine all I thought I knew. This is haunting, magical, brave work from a poet of great power, and I am thankful her poems exist—a true voice of her post-9/11 generation.
—Kelly Moffett, author of Bird Blind (Tebot Bach, 2017) & others
Sara Wagner’s poems reveal an astonishing idea of interiority. And the exterior world is no less odd, as this poet perceives it: “Listen to the sound of the moon whisk / through the sky like a thrown pumpkin.” The surreality of these poems is rooted, though, in the real, with the loss of the poet’s grandfather to a violent suicide serving as the spark that ignites the charge. As Wagner writes in “After the Burial,” in a moment where she visits a creek with her child, “One day we’ll catch our deaths // with cupped hands, / as we do the avalanche / of minnows.” Wagner has looked deep inside of us, and she has found piles of dust, fragments of tooth, the occasional skittering animal, and, most ominously, a barbed hook, always pulling us from our element into another, even as we try to resist. Her heartbreakingly innovative thinking about loss kept me on the line, and ultimately reeled me in.
—Karen Craigo, author of the poetry collection No More Milk (Sundress, 2016) & blogger at Better View of the Moon