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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,


"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


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?


express Reports

(She) the moment, interrupts with



"While it and I lap One Air"

(She) This Chasm, sweet

upon my life

The wilderness in hunger

I mention it to you,

(She) abruptly enters my mind

—the Hinge of Day

knocking, the waking settlers

The Habit of a Foreign Sky

Ghosts pivot on a door knob

We—difficult acquire

Who is there (she) among them

A Sense that smote and stirred

the unceded territory (she) is there

for the Ghosts, formerly

(they) Nipmuck, Pocumtuc, Massachusett

Away from Home are some and I

(She) in precarity of mind

An Emigrant to be

Writing cues to attention

In a metropolis of homes

(She) this plurality flung toward possibility

*quotes taken with gratitude from Cristanne Miller’s

Emily Dickinson’s Poems, As She Preserved Them

(Harvard University Press, 2016)



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