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Country of Glass

Sarah Katz

May 2022

Table of contents
  $18.95 (t) paperback, ebook

Country of Glass is the debut poetry collection from Sarah Katz, who offers an exploration of the concept of precariousness as it applies to bodies, families, countries, and whole societies. Katz employs themes of illness, disability, war, and survival within the contexts of family history and global historical events. The collection moves through questions about identity, storytelling, displacement, and trauma, constructing an overall narrative about what it means to love while trying to survive. The poems in this book—which take the form of free verse, prose poems, sestinas, and erasures—attempt to address human fragility and what resilience looks like in a world where so much is uncertain.

Advance Praise for Country of Glass

“Sarah Katz’s poems sustain an unsettling world. Are we in a dreamscape or is the poet awake and in a constant state of confusion and unreliability? As the poems move from family and personal memory, they begin to turn towards larger and starker realities. Instead of looking and looking again in a dreamlike state, we’re looking at the brutality of Americanness and its recent history of torture and ruin. Children continue to appear throughout the poems, perhaps to ask us of our innocence and nature in the face of something unsayable. Country of Glass is a brave and evocative book of lyrics by a poet who is not only searching for something real, but who is also wondering what makes us human, and where do we find the line between tenderness and cruelty?”

—Raymond Antrobus, author of All the Names Given, Can Bears Ski?, and The Perseverance

“Sarah Katz’s debut, Country of Glass, gives us an important new voice in American poetry. She tells hard truths by using strong emotions to push the line, and by using poetic forms in service to Story. Couplets, quatrains, free verse, as well as prose poems, are engaged—not for their own sakes—but to further characters, situations, and plot. Her colors, images, and sensuality create a world we’ve never known and will not forget. Strong diction and lyric hold us close to the narrative, and that’s what we want—a good story—that’s why we’ll reread this book.”

—Grace Cavalieri, Maryland Poet Laureate

Country of Glass is a wonderful book of lyric poetry, yes. But why? Because here imagery becomes more than a poetic device: it becomes a kind of language in and of itself. The power of these poems lies in how evocative, how suggestive, playful, dangerous even, these images are. How suspicious of us, their readers, how precise in their bravery, how passionate in their abandon. Why? Because this book is about seeing the world. It sees via its own memories and those of others, it sees what is in plain sight but is often overlooked by us, because the more marvelous things are, the more often they tend to be overlooked. That is where all good poetry steps in. Which is to say: the book’s power is in its use of images, yes, and also in what it chooses not to say, what it allows us, the readers, to say on our own. The silences, the asides, the whispers, the mumbles even, carry a power here, as they do in the work of such poets as Charles Simic, where the lyric becomes a kind of dream language, and surrealism is no longer a poetic device but a device of soul-making, a device of the mind as it considers itself: why am I here? What does it mean to be a human voice living in this body, on this planet, among other humans? On these pages, narrative poems and brief lyrics, asides, dreams, commentaries, meditations, prose poems, line-breaks, civic poems, lyric reveries all meet to show us a world from a perspective that’s slightly bemused, slightly ironic even, but never wholly ironic, always there is a human emotion, human tenderness towards the world, always there is precision. Indeed, Country of Glass is a wonderful book.”

—Ilya Kaminsky, author of Dancing in Odessa and Deaf Republic

“Sarah Katz possesses the keen eye of a miniaturist: her image-making is close-cropped, uncanny, refined to an economy of grace and unnerving sharpness. As with familiar folktales, one feels in these poems a sense of wonder, of bemusement, and of terror. Desire and dis-ease haunt these tableaux of memory, history, and dream. I have been reading Sarah Katz’s poems in journals for some years now with admiration. How lovely to have them collected here as Country of Glass, a beautifully balanced and intelligent collection of poems.”

—Eric Pankey, author of Not Yet Transfigured

“In her debut collection, Country of Glass, poet Sarah Katz begins with bewilderment, a stillness where two woolly animals meet. What is between them, ‘I do not understand,’ she writes. Even now, having finished reading her collection, I share that overwhelm; I feel an urge to translate an emotion that has no word, no comparison to stand under. It is the triumph of these strange, gorgeously composed, often brilliant meditations on family and history and the dreamy stillness where they intersect. So many of the poems are masterful, masterfully composed and conceived of. ‘Da Album,’ ‘Memory,’ ‘Superstition,’ remain among the most beautiful, haunting compositions I have read in years. It brings to mind Gluck, Simic, Trakl, Max Jacob...a world that seems a panel from Bosch’s images of heaven and hell, where, in ‘Post-Craniotomy’ someone can ‘appear dehorned...two holes in your head—/an unsuspected devil/newly redeemed.’ It was Breton who said that only the marvelous is beautiful. Now at the beginning of her career—and I imagine for the rest of it—we have a poet who has set out to examine every mote of dust, every nightmare, every forest full of horses through the pinhole of the marvelous. And she does, she does.”

—David Keplinger, author of The World to Come

“As readers and as human beings, we are blessed by this poet’s willingness to grapple with her alienation, to enter into conversations with a strange, painful, beloved, and deeply alive world through her purely distilled observations. From the surrealness of inanimate objects to the all-too-real nature of how people suffer and cause suffering, Sarah Katz waves us into her poetic vision with courage, with exquisite language, with open and articulate hands.”

—Sarah Stockton, River Mouth Review

“Katz’s ways with sharp detail and rhetorical questions that address a lot of existentialist stress I fret about frequently become a comfortable reassuring read despite its occasional heavy big questions and personal tragedies … These incredibly well-written poems definitely hit home with themes such as trauma and deaf identity, manipulating us to constructively think more about what we think and how we live in this fleeting life filled with the beautiful flowers that come with thorns.”

—Payne Nymo, Wordgathering

“Sarah Katz has woven a humane and haunting book of poems.”

—Jonah Meyer, Heavy Feather Review

Sarah Katz’s poems have appeared in District Lit, the So to Speak blog, Rogue Agent, MiPOesias, The Shallow Ends, and Bear Review, among others. She earned an MFA in poetry from American University and her original manuscript of Country of Glass was named a finalist by former US Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky for Tupelo Press’s 2016 Dorset Prize. She has contributed essays and articles to a variety of publications, including The Atlantic, The Guardian, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Rumpus, Slate, and others. Sarah lives with her husband, Jonathan, in Fairfax, Virginia, and is Poetry Editor of The Deaf Poets Society, an online journal that features work by writers and artists with disabilities. Click here to visit Sarah Katz’s website.

ISBN 978-1-954622-03-6
76 pages. 5½ x 8½.
$18.95 (t)

ISBN 978-1-954622-04-3