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  • Pamenar Press

Sarah Riggs

Sarah Riggs is a writer, filmmaker, translator and artist. She is the author of seven books of poetry in English: Waterwork (Chax, 2007), Chain of Minuscule Decisions in the Form of a Feeling (Reality Street, 2007), 60 Textos (Ugly Duckling, 2010), Autobiography of Envelopes (Burning Deck, 2012), Pomme & Granite (1913 Press, 2015) which won a 1913 poetry prize, Eavesdrop (Chax, 2020) and The Nerve Epistle, which is forthcoming this Fall 2021 with Roof Books. Selections from Waterwork and Chax have come out as Murmurations (éditions Apic, 2021) in the original and with French translations by Marie Borel and Jérémy Robert. Riggs has translated six poetry books from French including the prizewinning TIME by Etel Adnan (Nightboat Books, 2019). Her film productions have shown at the Berlin Film Festival, the Jeu de Paume, the Tate Modern, Anthology Film Archive and other venues. Her drawings and paintings have shown at galleries internationally, and often are in conversation with her writing. She is a podcaster with "Invitation to the Species" and runs a translation seminar and intercultural art projects with Tamaas, which means "contact" in Arabic. More about Sarah and her work can be found on her website, https://sarahriggs.org.

"Unbound Sheets"


(writing through Emily Dickinson, 1865/2021)



Sheet 42


I am afraid to own a Body—


(I woke with fear stuck in my mouth)

I am afraid to own a Soul—


(this return of fear, your enemy within

yourself)


Profound—precarious Property—


(the heft of the self within the body)


Possession, not optional


(Is it a choice then, to possess or

be possessed)


There she was pacing, there were after her

(S/he) growing tumourly


Nor Snow—it was too small

(the survivor’s guilt

a metallic part you have to carry

or walk through)


(I am afraid to own a body)


Paris my time there at the rue

Pavée began with her telling

me of this loss a still birth

& how they wanted to bury the

fetus—it was very heavy at

the time and she said she could

have opted not to tell me


Profound—precarious property

surviving the Civil War in

Amherst, the pandemic in

Brooklyn—a touch, a flavor,

in the midst of things


Carrying the weight, setting it down

Nor Snow—it was too small—

the body of the guilt

taking it on


Myself can read the Telegrams


The news the news

Lives lives

global loss the tears

the lynching

the cancer

the pollution


Tis news as null as nothing



"Crisis is a Hair"


Let in so little (she)

an aptitude for Bird


Bleeding (she) every month

Is easy possibly

Just a regular sort of thing


(she) the Habit of a Foreign Sky


Held in that rocking


an Elephant’s calm eyes


(she) the news is in our lungs


Experiment to Me


(She) washing hair to hair


A Territory for Ghosts


You say (she) Pioneer, settlers

Touches My Forehead

now and then


1865 battles in the soul (she) Civil


And a Suspicion, like a Finger


(she) not splitting hairs

I am looking oppositely for the site


Forty-Eighth unbound sheet


(she) bound unbound


The news is null.



"The Instant Holding in its Claw"


I’ve dropped my Brain


She says (she)


My Soul is numb—


What can it be to feel


Whole heart Done perfecter

the times, in stone—


Stirring the moments—


Instincts for Dance


(She) writes or is it clasps


An Aptitude for Bird—


The robin is her newspaper


The Robin is the One


(she) any laughter in

those syllables?


Hurried—few—

express Reports


(She) the moment, interrupts with

Mourning



"While it and I lap One Air"


(She) This Chasm, sweet