Saturday, October 07, 2017

Sarah Jean Grimm, Soft Focus


When they told me I was a witch
I believed them

I started stripping layers
to stay afloat

I liked to give the people
what they wanted

Approval powdered me
a milky Victorian

I could feed the whole village
on the whites of my eyes

with my meanest look
If I smiled I threatened pearls

my mouth an oyster
open for irritants

For maximum loveliness I tried just
a suggestion of suction

I drooled on my mirror
and nearly drowned

I grew these warts for my own sake
baked my skin on terracotta tiles

Shimmer and matte
powered my hold

their thickest polymers
couldn’t hold me

Brooklyn poet and editor Sarah Jean Grimm’s first poetry collection is Soft Focus (Montreal QC: Metatron, 2017), produced as part of the 2016 Metatron Prize. A collection of curious first-person lyrics, Grimm’s poems explore and articulate issues of the self and the body, and the ways in which culture alter our perceptions around both. There is a dream-like element to the pieces here, suggesting that the “Soft Focus” is half dream-state/half deliberate squint, whether for the sake of an altered perception or self-protection (or both). Grimm’s poems seem to exert against occasional exhaustion, cultural bullshit and growing pains; hers is a book of uncertainty, perseverance and exploration. We have so many teeth,” she writes, to open the poem “GLAM GIRLS,” “and / There is so much to be bitten and we have / Brittle bodies trying to be tiny things / It is such an effort [.]”

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