Nothing To Do With Me by Sarah Xerta
“Poets are some of the emptiest people I know
is a thought that just hit me from somewhere in the back
of my brain, those shithead elves throwing snowballs at me.”
Those are the first lines of this book. From that exact moment, I was in. I love The Big Lebowski. It is my favorite movie of all time, despite, or because of, the many levels of what at first seems like weirdness in it. Every time I watch it I find something in the background, or a line I misunderstood at first, or a facial expression from a character I had never seen. This book is like that to me already. Not that it is funny, although at times it is, this is an emotional experience I didn’t want to end. I have not stopped reading and re-reading and reading out loud all of these poems.
“Today you are a universe
I’m not sure exists, and for a while I thought
the mystery was nice, all the
swirls of cosmic dust
always moving through you,”
There is a fun emptiness, or a happy sadness of some kind at work here. The smiling-thru-the-tears aspect is on full display at all times. You can feel the movement of the work from poem to poem, and it plays like a perfectly made mixtape. I didn’t want to stop reading and every time I got to the end of the book I was disappointed that there wasn’t more to read. I have enjoyed Sarah’s work for some time, and this collection is a huge step into a place few poets get to enjoy.
“…it makes me nervous
to talk about things with capital letters,”
This is great book. Point blank. Front to back. The art adds to the experience of reading the book in a striking way, so kudos to the U of Hell and the artists (Cover Design and Layout by Vince Norris, Cover Art and Illustrations by Susannah Kelly) that made the old “..book by its cover.” saying irrelevant for this book. This collection LOOKS important, and this collection IS important.
“When I think about heaven I think maybe
I should stop thinking altogether and move through the rest of the day
like the water that makes up more than half
of our bodies,”
We need more voices like this in the world. The fact that we don’t makes Sarah Xerta all that much more needed. I recommend all of Sarah’s work, but none more than this. Not that the other work is sub par, I only mean that there are moments in every artists career where they just get it right. Not only has Sarah done that here, you get the feeling from this collection, Sarah will be getting it right for a very long time.
– This book is reviewed by Wil Gibson in partnership with The Poetry Question and Drunk in a Midnight Choir.